Press Release

4 April 2003


Commission on Human Rights Continues
Review of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

(Reissued as received.)

GENEVA, 4 April (UN Information Service) -- ...


Introduction of Report on Adequate Housing

MILOON KOTHARI, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, said he had followed a holistic approach based on the reality that all human rights were interrelated and indivisible.  The right to adequate housing could not be fully realized if separated from other rights such as the rights to food, water, sanitation, electricity, health, work, property, security of home, and protecting against inhumane and degrading treatment.  This had required him to examine a range of issues related to adequate housing, including land, forced evictions, access to water and sanitation, health, poverty and the impact of globalization.  His particular focus had been to develop a strong gender perspective, consistent with the right to non-discrimination, and to place emphasis on the rights of particular groups, such as children, indigenous people and minorities.  He had focused on the progress that had been made at international and national levels, and on the work of the United Nations and civil society.  In his report he had highlighted four emerging issues: the right to water and the issue of sanitation; processes of globalization and impact of the realisation on the right to adequate housing; the need for human rights-based approaches to monitoring the Millennium Development Goals; and the right of persons with disabilities to adequate housing.

The Special Rapporteur referred to the country missions, which had been an important part of his mandate, to Romania, Mexico, as well as a visit to the occupied Palestinian territories.  He also flagged some areas which he would like to focus on in the coming year.  First, there must be a continued focus on the issue of women and adequate housing.  Second, he would continue his efforts to bring the issue of adequate housing to the attention of the follow-up processes of relevant United Nations conferences and summits such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development.  Third, he would attempt to further elaborate on the non-discrimination framework on housing, and to suggest ways to operationalize this framework.  Fourth, he would expand his focus on vulnerable groups and to specifically address the rights of children and persons with disabilities to adequate housing,  Finally, he looked forward to contributing to the Commission working group on the draft optional protocol to the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.  He urged the Commission to ensure that the agenda of the working group included expressed consideration of the draft protocol before the Commission since 1997.

Responses of Concerned Countries to Report on Adequate Housing


TUVIA ISRAELI (Israel) said Israel had been informed about the draft report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing that was now before the Commission.  The report was based on a visit to Israel that the Special Rapporteur had made in a private capacity.  The Special Rapporteur had clearly indicated that his visit to Israel was to attend a conference at the Ben Gurion University.  His visit had never been endorsed by the Secretariat or the Office of the High Commissioner as an official visit.  Yet the data compiled was now part of an official United Nations report.  Israel was deeply disturbed by this behaviour.  The Special Rapporteur?s conduct was unacceptable and raised serious legal and ethical issues.  The discussion of this report was therefore both inappropriate and unethical, and no other member or observer of the Commission would accept must accept such behaviour on the part of Special Rapporteurs.

NABIL RAMLAWI (Palestine) said the policy of house demolitions had been pursued by Israel for a long time.  One could imagine how many Palestinian houses had been demolished during all those years.  Israel was doing it to consolidate its occupation of the Palestinian territories.  Buildings were at times destroyed with the pretext that they had been built without permission.  Some Palestinians did, however, obtain permits to build houses, but the Israeli authorities destroyed the dwellings anyway.  In addition, Palestinian houses were destroyed by bombs dropped from helicopters.  Israeli forces shelled houses on purpose.  The other Israeli policy involved the demolition of houses under the pretext that they belonged to Palestinians activists. 

When Israel destroyed Palestinian houses, it would give way and space to the Israel settlers coming from all over the world.  The crime was related to Israeli practices that had started in 1948. 


Interactive Dialogue on Adequate Housing

A Representative of the Syrian Arab Republic said Israel had been violating the right to housing of thousands of Palestinians by demolishing their houses.  He asked if there was any international legal order that might obligate Israel to rebuild the houses it had demolished or to pay compensation.


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For information media - not an official record