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        Economic and Social Council
12 July 1995

Original: English

Subcommission on Prevention
of Discrimination and
Protection of Minorities
Forty-seventh session
Item 8 of the provisional agenda

The right to adequate housing
Final report submitted by Mr. Rajindar Sachar,
Special Rapporteur

1 - 43
Summary of first three reports
1 - 16
Recent developments on housing rights
17 - 43
44 - 61
A. The right to housing and women's rights
45 - 49
B. Children and housing rights
50 - 52
C. Land rights and the right to food
53 - 55
D. The right to health and the right to housing
56 - 58
E. The human right to adequate housing and
the indivisibility of all human rights
59 - 61
62 - 78
79 - 96
97 - 122
123 - 137
138 - 143
144 - 154
155 - 260
I.Constitutional sources of housing rights
II.The Jerusalem Declaration
III.List of replies received


27. In his earlier reports, the Special Rapporteur identified as glaring causes of the international housing crisis prevailing situations of armed conflict. The extent of homelessness and insecurity generated by such situations has resulted in large-scale deprivation and the disruption of people's lives and identities.

28. One of the most poignant examples of the devastating impact of a state of occupation is that of the Palestinians uprooted from their ancestral homes since the occupation in 1967 of East Jerusalem by Israel. Not until he visited that area did the Special Rapporteur realize the deliberate, systematic violation of housing rights undertaken by the Israeli Government. The wanton destruction of Arab homes and the takeover of the lands where they have lived for generations to make place for Jewish settlements defies description. Recent studies based largely on official Israeli government sources demonstrate the systematic policy of discrimination being followed in Jerusalem. 1/

29. As an analyst has recently pointed out:

"The intense settlement activity that has increased the number of Jews living in Jerusalem has been accompanied by government policies since 1967 to limit the number of Palestinians residing in Jerusalem to no more than 24 per cent of the city's population. This policy directive has been recently restated in a 1992 official report by a committee of the Israeli Ministry of the Interior (the Kubersky Committee) established to investigate the annexation of territory east of Jerusalem. Israel has succeeded, in this goal of a 74 per cent Israeli to a 24 per cent Palestinian population ratio, through intricate bureaucratic restrictions for Palestinian East Jerusalem residents. Israeli housing and planning policies are responsible for decreasing the Palestinian population while simultaneously increasing the Israeli population in East Jerusalem. These policies include: (i) expansion of municipal boundaries to include Palestinian land while excluding Palestinian population; (ii) expropriation of Palestinian land for Jewish construction and the confining of Palestinian construction to built-up areas; (iii) excluding the Palestinians from the planning process; (iv) keeping Palestinian land unplanned or declaring 'green areas' which cannot be used for housing; and (v) demolition of unlicensed Palestinian homes to keep areas vacant for future confiscation". 2/

30. The Special Rapporteur had thought that now that the peace process had begun, between the Palestinian Authority and the Israeli Government, not only would the human rights violations cease but adequate compensatory steps would have been taken by the Israeli Government. But, at the time of writing of the present report the situation seems only to have worsened. In the absence of any censure from the Western nations (the United States even vetoed the resolution of the Security Council asking Israel to halt further confiscation) the Israeli Government publicly announced with fanfare further confiscation of 53 hectares of Arab land in East Jerusalem. The condemnation of the Arab and Asian countries was brushed aside with disdain. The Israeli Government stated that it would go ahead with the confiscation of this area, brushing aside the advice and warning from Arab States that that might jeopardize the peace accord with the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO).

31. A near war-like situation was being contemplated. However the danger of a motion of no confidence being passed against Prime Minister Rabin's Government, as threatened by Arab members of Parliament, has averted this needless violation of housing rights. But the question needs to be asked: how long will this suspension of land confiscation continue? The Special Rapporteur believes that all such actions stem from not accepting that violations of housing rights are not merely a breach of any gratuitous promise but are, in fact, violations of human rights - violations which no State can be allowed to commit if it wants to remain a member of the community of civilized nations.

32. In the light of these unfortunate developments, the Special Rapporteur is pleased to report the mobilization that is taking place on the ground in Jerusalem to counter the policies the Israeli Government is following. The Special Rapporteur has received information that for the past six months a vibrant campaign for the housing rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem is under way. This campaign is one of the activities of the Palestine Housing Rights Movement. One significant result of this effort is the drafting and recent public release of "The Jerusalem Declaration", the draft charter of the Palestine Housing Rights Movement.

33. The Special Rapporteur would like to comment that the contents of the Jerusalem Declaration embody the understanding of the right to housing that the Rapporteur has stressed in his reports. In an all too dismal scenario, the bright voice of grass-roots activism and collective effort needs to be recognized. The Declaration is based on sound legal principles and international human rights instruments. In the interest of furthering attention by the United Nations human rights programme to housing rights and as an example of the nature of articulation that is possible, and needs to be studied by housing rights struggles across the world, the Declaration is attached as an annex to the present report (annex II).

34. Continuing with the developments on housing rights in the past year the Special Rapporteur would like to mention the formation of a housing rights campaign in Israel itself. The Arab Coordinating Committee on Housing Rights in Israel was formed in December 1994 and has already begun utilizing international law on the right to housing to aid its struggle for an end to the discriminatory housing and planning policies of the Government of Israel against the Palestinians residing in Israel. 3/


Annex II
Draft charter of the Palestine Housing Rights Movement
29 May 1995


The Palestine Housing Rights Movement is a coalition of non-governmental organizations, community-based groups and activists who are committed to promoting the housing rights of all Palestinians. We understand this to mean the right of every woman, man and child to a place to live in security and dignity.

We affirm that housing is a fundamental human right and that adequate housing is essential to the freedom, dignity, equality and security of persons, families and communities.

We emphasize the inseparable relationship between the right to adequate housing and the right to life, the right to livelihood and the right to an adequate standard of living.

We affirm that Palestinians, like all people, have the right to adequate housing, including the right to active participation in all decisions in the process toward achieving that right for all Palestinians.

Recognizing that the national liberation movement of the Palestinian people is informed by the longing and struggle for the homeland as a place of security, peace and dignity for the Palestinian family, we call upon the Palestinian people to join us in ensuring that our housing policy serves as the cornerstone of our nation-building effort.

We affirm that priority must be given to all Palestinians who have lost their homes, first of all to all Palestinian refugees returning to their homeland, to those who have lost their homes through demolitions, evictions and other dispossession as a result of Israeli occupation policies, and to all Palestinians who suffer from inadequate housing and conditions of homelessness.

We commit ourselves to ensuring that housing resources and community services are managed equitably and efficiently so as to protect and promote the progressive and daily realization of our right to self-determination.

We commit ourselves to the special efforts and cooperation required to plan, build, preserve and restore our housing resources to ensure adequate housing and sustainable development of our communities for all Palestinians.

We consider Jerusalem to be our capital city, the centre of our political, social, economic, cultural and religious life. We are committed to ensuring that all Palestinians have free and open access to Jerusalem, and we are further committed to promoting the housing rights of Palestinians in Jerusalem, in accordance with the principles of this Charter. Toward this end, and recognizing the particular threats to our capital city and to the rights of Palestinians to a place to live in security and dignity in Jerusalem, we have launched a Jerusalem Housing Rights Campaign.

We consider that the principles and responsibilities of this Charter concern all Palestinians, men and women, in all parts of the country and in exile, in all sectors of our society, and at all levels from the individual and the local community to the nation. The Housing Rights Movement seeks to link with and unite its activities with similar groups committed to the principles of this Charter in exile, especially in Lebanon, where Palestinians are threatened with yet another displacement, as the plans for rebuilding Beirut infringe on existing camps.

We consider these principles and responsibilities binding on the Palestinian Authority, on the Israeli Government as the occupying power, and on our international partners who are fulfilling their international obligations to support and assist us in realizing our national goals.

We draw the attention of all these Governments to their binding obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to adequate housing and to the continuous improvement of living conditions as enshrined in article 11(1) of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

We see ourselves as part of a global movement of grass-roots efforts by women, men and children struggling for a place to live in security and dignity. We draw inspiration from these efforts and act in solidarity with them.

We are committed to the realization, protection and promotion of all human rights - civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights - inalienable, interdependent and indivisible - for all human beings, free and equal in dignity, without exclusion or discrimination. We respect and promote these principles in all our actions and programmes.


The Palestinian Housing Rights Movement's Plan of Action is organized around four principles:

1. Ensuring access to adequate housing for all Palestinians without discrimination and in full equality.

2. Empowering all Palestinians by promoting democratic processes that enable all people, especially women, to participate fully and actively in decisions affecting their housing and community.

3. Building toward a sustainable development in which adequate housing is considered an essential right around which to design community services and integrated development programmes, utilizing local human and material resources.

4. Enabling all Palestinians to take effective control of housing and community projects through education and training and through provision of adequate financial support and other resources needed to realize their housing rights.

1. Ensuring access to adequate housing for all Palestinians requires sustained solidarity and concerted attention, including corrective and restorative actions where necessary, to ensure that all Palestinians, without discrimination and in full equality, enjoy these seven internationally recognized entitlements:

Secure tenure for everyone, tenants and owners, including legal protection against eviction, harassments or other threats to the security, peace and dignity of the household.

Sustainable access to the services, materials and infrastructure essential for health, security, comfort and nutrition.

Affordable housing, with provision for housing subsidies and protection to ensure that the financial costs of housing do not threaten or compromise the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs.

Habitable housing, with adequate space and protection from the elements and other threats to health and safety.

Full and sustainable access to adequate housing and housing resources, including entitlement to land, for everyone, with priority to those who have lost their homes through demolition, eviction, land expropriation or other means, and those with special housing needs, particularly children, the elderly, and the disabled.

Housing located in a safe and healthy place, with respect for the environment and close to community services, places of worship, work and income-producing opportunities, health-care facilities, schools and child-care centres, recreation centres and parks.

Housing and communities designed, built and managed in conformity with Palestinian culture and values to maintain our cultural identity and skills, to preserve our national heritage and to promote our sense of being and belonging to a place, so crucial to our survival as a people.

The Palestinian people, living under occupation, as refugees, and in exile, have been denied these basic entitlements through the Israeli occupation policies of land confiscation, house demolitions, property destruction, forced eviction, denial of residency and citizenship, separation of families, discriminatory zoning and planning, and other policies of dispossession and disenfranchisement.

An essential first step in ensuring access to adequate housing, therefore, is to address the legacy of occupation by developing strategies aiming toward the restoration of land rights, compensation for property destruction and confiscation, reversal of discriminatory planning, reunification of families, and rebuilding of homes and communities, with particular attention to refugee housing.

Secondly and of equal importance, the Palestinian people working with and through the Palestinian National Authority must ensure that planning and building of homes and communities are conducted through transparent mechanisms and procedures based on housing rights principles.

2. Empowerment requires that all actions with regard to housing, services and infrastructure include all the population, especially women, in orientation and key decisions. This means:

Guaranteeing the exercise of fundamental civil and political rights, including the right to information and to freedom of movement, expression, assembly and association.

Ensuring that no important decision regarding housing policy, planning, implementation and management is taken without the participation, through consultative bodies, of the people concerned, and especially women who are the first ones responsible for the management of the household, the care of the home, and the use of community services for the family.

Reinforcing the power of the basic community, an the participation of women, in their capacity to contribute to the design and implementation of housing projects and their management.

Structuring the partnership between international donors and technical support so that the true initiators of housing design and community development are the Palestinian communities themselves.

3. Sustainable development requires that housing be integrated into a global approach to political, social, economic and cultural development. This means:

Considering adequate housing an essential right around which to design integrated development programmes of health, sanitation, waste management, preservation of the environment, education, economic activities, community and recreational facilities.

Planning actions to preserve, renovate, and restore existing housing -taking particular care to preserve and revitalize architecture expressive of our heritage and culture - while creating new housing that is equitable and accessible and fulfils all other housing rights entitlements.

Emphasizing in all housing and community development projects the use of existing local resources in terms of expertise, employment, equipment and technology, in order to simultaneously contribute to the full employment of the Palestinian people and the economic development of the country.

Promoting regional cooperation within Palestine and throughout the Arab world to reinforce and enhance our social and cultural identity as a people.

4. Enabling Palestinians to take effective control of housing and community projects requires education, training, financial support and other resources.

Housing projects that aim simply to provide technical and physical solutions cannot in and of themselves create and sustain homes and living communities. Therefore, all housing projects and programmes must incorporate measures to enable men and women equally to take effective control of all aspects of housing and community projects, utilizing participatory approaches and relying on local skills and resources. In this regard, certain programmes should be given high priority:

Training in home maintenance and renovation, with full and equal access to necessary resources.

Community management programmes facilitating full and representative participation through democratic structures and procedures.

Comprehensive community-based environmental training on public health and hygiene, utilities and waste management, community services, and environmental protection.

Legal literacy training, particularly on tenants rights, land and property ownership.

Financial support for self-help projects, with provision for fair and equal access to credit.

International cooperation and support, responsive to community determined priorities and supportive of participatory approaches.


1/ See, for example, A Policy of Distrimination: Land Expropriation, Planning and Building in East Jerusalem, B'TSELEM (The Israeli Information Centre for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories), Jerusalem, 1995.

2/ See Miloon Kothari, "Palestinians in East Jerusalem: Systematic dispossesion" in Mainstream, vol. XXXIII, No. 26, 20 May 1995, pp. 15-31. See also, joint written statement submitted to the Subcommission on the Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities by Habitat International Coalition and the Palestine Human Rights Information Center, (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1994/NGO/7).

3/ See Habitat International Coalition statement at the fifty-first session of the Commission on Human Rights under agenda items 4 and 9 (E/CN.4/1995/SR.5).


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