Human Rights and Sustainable Human Settlements
What is the Human Right to Sustainable Human Settlements?
Issues surrounding the sustainability of human settlements are human rights issues. Reinforcing the right of every woman, man, youth and child to sustainable human settlements are universal human rights standards defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, CEDAW, the International Covenants and other widely adhered to international human rights treaties and Declarations -- powerful tools that must be put to use in implementing the Habitat Agenda and the commitments made at Rio, Cairo, Copenhagen, and Beijing!
The Human Rights at Issue
The human right of every woman, man, youth and child to sustainable human settlements includes the following universal, indivisible, interconnected and interdependent human rights:
- The human right to adequate housing.
- The human right to a safe and healthy environment.
- The human right to development.
- The human right to the highest attainable standard of health.
- The human right to an adequate standard of living, including access to adequate food, water and sanitation.
- The human right to access to resources, including energy for cooking, heating, and lighting.
- The human right of access to basic services, schools, transportation and employment options.
- The human right to affordability in housing so that other basic needs are not threatened or compromised.
- The human right of the child to live in an environment appropriate for physical and mental development.
- The human right to work and receive wages that contribute to an adequate standard of living.
- The human right to equal access for all persons to productive resources, including land, credit, and technology.
- The human right to freedom from discrimination based on sex, race, or any other status.
- The human right to security, including legal security of tenure.
- The human right to protection from forced evictions and the destruction and/or demolition of one's home including in situations of military occupation, international and civil armed conflict, establishment and construction of alien settlements, population transfer, development projects and international events.
- The human right to equal access to education and information.
- The human right to full and equal participation for all persons in decision-making and development planning, and in shaping decisions and policies affecting one's community, on the local, national and international levels.
- The human right to freedom of expression.
- The human right to freedom of association.
Governments' Obligations to Ensuring the Human Right to Sustainable Human Settlements
What provisions of human rights law guarantee everyone the Human Right to Sustainable Human Settlements?
Includes excerpts from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.
- "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood...."
- -- Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 25
- "The States Parties ... recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions...."
- --International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 11
- "Everyone shall have the right to freedom of association .... All persons are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to the equal protection of the law...."
- -- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Articles 22 and 26
- "States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas ... to ensure ... the right ... to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications...."
- -- Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, Article 14
- "States Parties undertake to prohibit and to eliminate racial discrimination ... and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, ... in the enjoyment of ... the right to housing...."
- --Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, Article 5
- "States Parties recognize the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child's physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.... States Parties ... shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in case of need provide material assistance and support ..., particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing."
- --Convention on the Rights of the Child, Article 27
Governments' Commitments to Ensuring the Human Right to Sustainable Human Settlements
What commitments have governments made to ensuring the realization of the Human Right to Sustainable Human Settlements for all?
Includes commitments made at the Habitat II conference in Istanbul, the Earth Summit in Rio, and excerpts from the UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 4, (1991).
- "...sustainable development of human settlements combines economic development, social development and environmental protection, with full respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development, and offers a means of achieving a world of greater stability and peace, built on ethical and spiritual vision.... We commit ourselves to the goal of sustainable human settlements ... by developing societies that will make efficient use of resources ... and by providing all people ... with equal opportunities for a healthy, safe and productive life in harmony with nature ... and which ensures economic and social development and environmental protection, thereby contributing to the achievement of national sustainable development goals."
- -- Habitat Agenda, paras. 4 and 42
- "Human beings are at the centre of concern for sustainable development. They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.... In order to achieve sustainable development, environmental protection shall constitute an integral part of the development process and cannot be considered in isolation from it...."
- --Rio Declaration, Principles 1, and 4
- " An adequate house must contain certain facilities essential for health, security, comfort and nutrition. All beneficiaries of the right to adequate housing should have sustainable access to natural and common resources, potable drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, food storage, refuse disposal, site drainage and emergency services...."
-- UN Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment No. 4, (1991)
For more information, please contact PDHRE
The People's Movement for Human Rights Education (PDHRE) / NY Office
Shulamith Koenig / Executive Director
526 West 111th Street, New York, NY 10025
tel: 212.749-3156; fax: 212.666-6325;