The realization of the human right to adequate housing of all urban residents is a prerequisite for inclusive and sustainable urban centres for all. Yet, almost 1 billion people of the world’s urban population live in inadequate housing conditions in slums and at least 2 million people in the world are forcibly evicted every year, while 100 million people face homelessness and this growing number is severed by the threat of forced evictions all over the world. Violation of the right to adequate housing leads to spatial fragmentation and increases the risk of a deficit of also other human rights, by groups who are discriminated, marginalized and excluded.

UN-Habitat is committed to the realization of the right to adequate housing by establishing the United Nations Housing Rights Program (UNHRP) with OHCHR jointly, to support governments, the civil society and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in their work on the advancement of the right to adequate housing and forced eviction preventions, with a focus on the homeless people, urban poor and other marginalized groups.

To achieve this objective, the UNHRP is involved in the following actions at the global level:

  • Development of standards and guidelines;
  • Elaboration of existing international legal instruments and support for enhanced compliance by governments; and
  • Development of a system to monitor and evaluate progress in the realization of housing rights.


"Losing Your Home" is an important and long overdue book, which I warmly welcome and recommend to the worldwide readership that it addresses and fully deserves. This book offers us a fresh and compelling look at one of the global and still unheralded enough crisis of our times: the increasing eviction and displacement of large numbers of people – no less than tens of millions every year – who are uprooted from their houses mostly without receiving the support they need for rebuilding their lives from society as a whole. House displacement, which much too often results in homelessness or slum dwelling, is a paradoxical result of many legitimate development projects that need a footprint but nonetheless do not care enough to resettle and re-house the people they displace; it is also a result of the bigger tragedies inflicted by destructive conflicts.

Michael M. Cernea,Brookings Institution NR Senior Fellow, Washington DC and Research Professor of Anthropology and International Affairs, GWU

regional and country offices submitted Written Contributions to the UN Human Rights Mechanism - Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
Successfully avoided evictions in
over 20
publications on housing rights

Related Sustainable Development Goals

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Leaving no one and no place behind

Hover over or click the icons to learn about UN-Habitat's work on social inclusion here.

As the aim of the program is to promote the human right to adequate housing for all, this contributes directly to the achievement of the progressive realization of the right to adequate housing which enshrined in international human rights treaty ICESCR.

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The programme takes a strong stance on tenure security and promoting access to housing rights for women as women face severe discrimination regarding tenure security and tend to be disproportionately affected by forced evictions.

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Forced evictions are particularly traumatized for children, as housing plays a crucial role in a child’s development. Children often lose access to schools & health care, and forced evictions increase the risk of family separation, leaving children vulnerable to trafficking and other abuses. Therefore children is given special consideration before, during and after evictions and resettlements under UNHRP. We promote legislation that ensure children have access to education and health facilities at the new resettlement site.

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Sustainable urban development can only be achieved if persons with disabilities are included meaningfully in decision-making and are able to access their rights. UN-Habitat partners with representative groups and individual rights holders, as well as national and local governments, relevant UN bodies and civil society to maximize impact and to meaningfully ensure that the rights including accessibility and universal design of persons with disabilities are promoted, respected and protected. 

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Donors and partners

UN-Habitat and OHCHR jointly launched the United Nations Housing Rights Program (UNHRP) in 2002. The overall goal of this initiative, launched and championed by the Executive Director of UN-Habitat and the High Commissioner on Human Rights, is to support governments, the civil society and National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) in their work on the advancement of the right to adequate housing. Under this programme, UN-Habitat supports the UN human rights mechanisms such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR). Other joint activities include normative tools development and technical assistance for the States and other stakeholders in building and improving technical capacities for implementation and monitoring of housing rights. On the same topic UN-Habitat also works collaborate with UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, particularly on the work of forced evictions prevention and housing rights advocacy.

Our Experts

Christophe Lalande
Leader, Housing Unit - Housing and Slum Upgrading Branch