A Handbook on UN Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement – Third edition November 2010 HIC-HLRN South Asia Regional Programme


The UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, in collaboration with the German Federal Foreign Office and the German Institute for Human Rights, co-organized an International Workshop on Forced Evictions in Berlin in June 2005, for the purpose of elaborating guidelines aimed at assisting States and the international community in developing policies and legislation to address forced evictions. The Basic Principles and Guidelines on Development-based Evictions and Displacement (henceforth Guidelines) are the result of this workshop and subsequent consultations.

In June 2007, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing presented the Guidelines to the Human Rights Council, which formally acknowledged them in December 2007.

Highlights of the Guidelines

These basic principles and operational guidelines offer several new prescriptions, based on experiences gathered worldwide since 1997.

The Guidelines address the human rights implications of evictions induced by development projects and related displacement in urban and rural areas.  They represent a further development of the Comprehensive Human Rights Guidelines on Development-based Displacement (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1997/7, annex).  They are based on international human rights law, and are consistent with General Comment 4 (1991) and General Comment 7 (1997) of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights; the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2); the Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 60/147; and the Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons (see E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/17 and Add.1).

In particular, the Guidelines:

•  Define the practice of forced evictions (paras. 4-8);

•  Lay down stringent criteria under which displacement can occur in “exceptional circumstances”, with “full justification” and procedural guarantees (para. 21);

•  Enumerate detailed steps to be taken by States to protect human rights prior to, during, and after evictions (paras. 37-58);

•  Call for comprehensive “eviction-impact assessments” to be carried out prior to displacement (paras. 32, 33, 42);

•  Call for provision of compensation, restitution and adequate rehabilitation consistent with human rights standards (paras. 42, 60-63, 69, 70);

•  Provide useful guidance on other phenomena that lead to displacement such as disasters and climate change induced displacement (paras. 52, 55);

•  Establish a “right to resettle” consistent with the right to adequate housing for displaced communities living in adverse conditions (paras. 16, 52-56);

•  Call on States, in pursuance of an “immediate obligation” to guarantee security of tenure to all those currently lacking titles to home and land (paras. 23, 25);

•  Provide a strong gender perspective, including protection and entitlements to women (paras. 7, 15, 26, 29, 33, 34, 38, 39, 47, 50, 53, 54, 57 and 58);

•  Protect children’s right to adequate housing (paras. 21, 31, 33, 47, 50, 52, 54, 56);

•  Emphasise the differential nature of impacts of evictions on marginalised groups and communities, including indigenous peoples, minorities, historically discriminated groups, persons with disabilities and older persons, and call for the protection of their human rights. (paras. 21, 29, 31, 33, 38, 39, 54, 57);

•  Protect the rights of human rights defenders (para. 22);

•  Call for protection of related human rights:

  –  Human right to work/livelihood (paras. 43, 52, 63);

  –  Human right to land (paras. 16, 22, 25, 26, 30, 43, 56, 60, 61, 63, 71);

  –  Human right to food (paras. 52, 57);

  –  Human right to health (paras. 16, 54-57, 63, 68);

  –  Human right to education (paras. 16, 52, 57, 60, 63);

•  Stress the obligations of non-State actors (paras. 11, 71-73);  

•  Call for States to take intervening measures to ensure that market forces do not increase the vulnerability of low income and marginalised groups to forced eviction (paras. 8, 30). 


To download the full text of the Handbook, please click here.