By Miloon Kothari. The world is living through an
unprecedented housing crisis. Approximately 1.6 billion people are considered
to be inadequately housed, while one hundred million are homeless and another
sixty million have been displaced from their homes.
something is done about it, the rapid urbanization of the world’s population is
nearly certain to exacerbate these figures. This crisis is multi-faceted,
including issues ranging from forced evictions to displacement to
gentrification; from the mortgage crisis to the austerity-driven decline in
public housing to the exponential growth of slums. The worldwide housing crisis
is being precipitated by war and destruction; by natural disasters and climate
change; by misguided and capital-driven development. But most of all, it is
being driven by a neoliberal model that fails treats housing as a commodity
instead of as a fundamental right of all humans living on this planet.
United Nations as well as other international organizations and civil society
bodies have in various ways sought to bring attention to this issue and provide
tools to assist other organizations, state actors, and non-state movement
groups in helping to stem the rising tides of the housing crisis. International
organizations are invaluable in establishing normative human rights frameworks
and putting pressure on those who are violating people’s housing rights. The
question is what exactly they are doing, how they can be most effective, and
where they fall short in their fights to halt the housing crisis.
this study Miloon Kothari, the first appointed United Nation’s Special
Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, reports on the global housing and land crisis
and the many human rights violations that it constitutes. He focuses
particularly on forced evictions and other forms of displacement caused by war,
persecution, and disasters both natural and man-made—for instance those driven
by misguided or ill-intentioned development policies.
UN Special Rapporteur, as well as founder and former director of Habitat
International Coalition’s Housing and Land Rights Network, Kothari has played
an important role in shaping UN responses in the form of global standards on
housing rights, displacement and evictions. In his study he gives insights into
the UN approach to the housing and land rights crisis and critically discusses
to what extent these standards are currently being implemented on the national
and local levels. Kothari concludes with recommendations on how to curb the
power of state and corporate actors to expropriate land, and how to better
protect people from homelessness, displacement, and other forms of inadequate
justice and urban politics represent a core area of our work at the Rosa
Luxemburg Stiftung’s New York office. This study is the second in our “City
Series” and marks both a continuation and a deepening of our commitment to this
urgent political topic. Our first study in the series, “Austerity Urbanism” by
Jamie Peck, can be accessed here.