HIC’s Statement at the 34th Session of the Human Rights Council

Dear President, dear Members of the
Human Rights Council,

Habitat International Coalition (HIC)
welcomes and celebrates the report on housing financialization presented by the
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an
adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this

HIC has long been part of civil society
movements heralding the danger to human rights, particularly the right to
adequate housing, of the financialization of housing. In this regard, HIC
called for greater regulation of real estate markets—internationally and
locally—more than a decade ago. HIC and its members look to the UN human rights
system as a force to counter this global trend. In this context, we would like
to urge the Human Rights Council to consider the Special Rapporteur’s report on
financialization as a strong reminder of what is missing in emerging global
policy instruments.

States should actively regulate and
direct private market and financial actors to ensure that their actions and
operative rules are consistent with human rights obligations, which surpass
national policies and legislation, and apply to all territorial and
jurisdictional spheres of the State. Nevertheless, as stated in the report,
financialization as a driver of policy often makes governments accountable to
profit-seeking investors at the expense of human rights. In this sense, HIC
considers particularly appropriate the report focus on mechanisms to ensure
also that subnational governments uphold the human right to adequate housing.
Since the roles of subnational and local governments can be particularly
relevant to cut or counterbalance these often-symbiotic relations among
political powers and financial interests.

As an alternative to this clearly unjust
global trend of privatization and financialization of housing, HIC has joined
other networks, actors, and federations of inhabitants[i],
to support federated saving groups, housing cooperatives, community land
trusts, and habitat and co-housing groups, which play a crucial role in the
production and management of inclusive, resilient, and sustainable habitats
through a process of ‘Social Production of Habitat’. Local and national
governments and current global documents, such as the New Urban Agenda,
increasingly acknowledge the contribution of the social production of habitat.
However, this recognition is insufficiently translated into concrete supportive
policy frameworks and enabling public policies.

To achieve the full implementation of
the human right to adequate housing, HIC emphasizes the need to build stronger long-term
partnerships between local communities and public authorities at all levels,
particularly in terms of facilitating access to (serviced) land, affordable
housing finance, technical assistance, and diverse forms of secure tenure. On the
occasion of Habitat III, we committed to working together to strengthen the
role of local communities in the production of sustainable and inclusive habitats,
and to monitor the implementation of Article 107 (sustainable housing options)
and Article 31 (participation and engagement of communities) of the New Urban
Agenda, as well as Goal 11 of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

HIC would also like to commend the
Special Rapporteur on her India mission report. While acknowledging and
appreciating the Government of India’s commitment to providing ‘Housing for All
by 2022,’ HIC would like to reiterate the recommendation made by the Special
Rapporteur on the need for a strong human rights approach to housing in India.
In particular, the Special Rapporteur’s recommendations to draft a
comprehensive national right to housing law and impose a moratorium on
evictions are supported. Given that India has the world’s highest number of
homeless and landless people, the Special Rapporteur’s call to end homelessness
by 2030 and to address landlessness through a national homestead act are of
extreme importance.

HIC would like to express its support
for the UN housing mandate and to congratulate the Special Rapporteur on
adequate housing for the two reports being presented to the Council.

Thank you for your kind attention.


[i] Including: Asian Coalition for Housing Rights; Building and Social
Housing Foundation; Co-operative Housing International; Grounded Solutions
Network; Shack/Slum Dwellers International; and UrbaMonde.

International Coalition

27 February

* Watch the video of the Statement, at 2h 26′,  delivered by Álvaro Puertas, HIC General Secretary, at the 34th session of the Human Rights Council (Geneva, Switzerland, 01 March 2017).

* Download the written Statement.