HIC-HLRN Addresses UN SR Report on Housing Segregation


* News originally published on HIC-HLRNwebsite


On 16 March 2022, Habitat International Coalition addressed the UN Human Rights Council’s 49th Regular Session in the interactive dialogue with the UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing on the subject of his current report on segregation and discrimination in housing. The following is the transcript of the oral intervention delivered by Joseph Schechla, coordinator of Housing and Land Rights Network.

“At the 1st UN Habitat Conference in 1976, governments declared: “The ideologies of States are reflected in their human settlement policies. These being powerful instruments for change, they must not be used to dispossess people from their homes and their land, or to entrench privilege and exploitation.”[1]

45 years on, we still lament racism and casteism as ideological root causes of structural forms of spatial segregation and discrimination.

However measured, housing inequality and forced evictions, as gross violations,[2] mean costs, losses and damages to victims, for which they are entitled to reparation.[3] The SR’s report reminds us how walls, planning codes and “redlining” can appear as the “petty apartheid” symptoms of wider “grand apartheid” that seeks to fragment and dissipate an entire people.

Such is the scale of housing discrimination across historic Palestine, where Israel’s systemic apartheid remains institutionalized in its government and parastatal bodies affecting housing and spatial reality. That case epitomizes the extreme extent of a state’s raison d’être whereby Israel’s housing segregation and discrimination are key instruments used against the Palestinian people as a whole.

That lesson is especially relevant to this Council session.[4]

Watch the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing’s interactive dialogue with the 49th session of the Human Rights Council. (HIC-HLRN intervention at 1::)

Download the Special Rapporteur’s report: English (advance unedited version)

See Habitat International Coalition and Member submissions to the Special Rapporteurs call for inputs:

Adalah – The Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel

BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights

Habitat International Coalition (HIC)

Habitat International Coalition – Middle East/North Africa

HIC-HLRN on Palestine/Israel

Kushian Society for Development and Human Rights (Nuba Mountains, Sudan)

Land Research Centre – Jerusalem (Palestine)

Photo: View of the Human Rights Council. Source: UN.


[1] Vancouver Plan of Action, A/Conf.70/15, 11 June 1976, para. 3, http://www.un-documents.net/van-plan.htm.

[2] Commission on Human Rights, “forced eviction,” resolution 1993/77, 10 March 1993, para. 1, http://www.hlrn.org/img/documents/ECN4199377%20en.pdf: “Affirms that the practice of forced evictions constitutes a gross violation of human rights, in particular the right to adequate housing”; and reaffirmed in “Prohibition of forced evictions,” resolution 2004/28, 16 April 2004, para. 1, http://www.hlrn.org/img/documents/E-CN_4-RES-2004-28.pdf.

[3] Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law, A/RES/60/147, 21 March 2006, http://www2.ohchr.org/english/law/remedy.htm.

[4] See also this session’s report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights situation in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967 on the practice and maintenance of the system of apartheid.