Globally, poverty in urban areas is evident in the proliferation of slums and informal settlements. In 2001, 47% of the world’s population lived in urban areas, and it was expected that the number would reach over 56% within the next two decades,1 with a billion-people living in a slum.2 Moreover, at least 2 million people in the world are forcibly evicted every year, while millions are threatened with forced evictions. These issues continue to persist despite the fact that the right to adequate housing is guaranteed to all and a prerequisite to inclusive and sustainable urban centers.
Human rights are important as they set the minimum standards that are essential for people to live in freedom, equality and dignity. They give everyone the freedom of choice and expression and the rights to basic needs necessary for their full development and enjoyment of their rights, including education, water, sanitation, food, health, and housing. Human rights also protect against their abuse by people or entities that are more powerful.
UN-Habitat commenced cooperation with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights as early as 2002 to work together for the comprehensive and progressive realization of Housing Rights under the auspices of the joint United Nations Housing Rights Programme. In early 2013 mainstreaming of human rights was approved as a priority issue by the UN-Habitat Governing Council through its inclusion in the 2014-19 Strategic Plan.