The Right To Adequate Housing : 2nd Progress Report / Submitted By Rajindar Sachar, Special Rapporteur

On 29 August 1991, at its forty-third session, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities adopted without a vote resolution 1991/26 in which it entrusted Mr. Rajindar Sachar with producing a working paper on the right to adequate housing, with a view to determining how best to further both the recognition and the enforcement of that right.
2. The Commission on Human Rights, at its forty-ninth session in its decision 1993/103, endorsed the decision of the Sub-Commission taken in its resolution 1992/26 of 27 August 1992, to appoint Mr. Rajindar Sachar as Special Rapporteur on promoting the realization of the right to adequate housing. The endorsement of the Commission was, in turn, approved by the Economic and Social Council in its decision 1993/287. 
3. At the forty-fourth session of the Sub-Commission the working paper (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1992/15) was submitted and discussed at length. At the forty-fifth session of the Sub-Commission a progress report (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1993/15) was submitted – the first report of Mr. Sachar in his capacity as Special Rapporteur.
4. In its resolution 1994/14 of 25 February 1994, adopted at its fiftieth session, the Commission on Human Rights, welcoming the first progress report of the Special Rapporteur, invited him to submit a second progress report to the Sub-Commission at its forty-sixth session.
5. In the next and final report the Special Rapporteur proposes to give suggestions as to mechanisms and targets required to give this right a greater impetus throughout the international community. He also proposes to examine whether or not the time has arrived to establish a method of indicators, so as to measure the depth and urgency of the problem and to effectuate the right to adequate housing. He will examine the relationship of the right to adequate housing with other human rights, such as the rights to health, education and food, as well as to civil and political rights. And, in the light of comments and suggestions made in the debate in the Sub-Commission, he will develop comprehensive and detailed recommendations.
6. As the winds of political change, after decades of oppression and popular struggle for justice and liberation, begin transforming a post-apartheid South Africa, few political or social issues in that country will be more central than housing. Indeed, as in other occupied or colonially administered lands, in South Africa during the apartheid era the housing domain formed the cornerstone of minority-led policies of segregation, discrimination, land confiscation, relocation and marginalization, which led to almost unfathomable disparities between the housing and living conditions of the predominantly poor black population and the privileged white power-holders. The legacies of this cruel system remain, and will continue to require a concerted effort on the part of the new Government to rectify past injustices, particularly concerning access to land, restitution and compensation for past victims of land confiscation and forced relocation.
7. The positive commitment already expressed by the new Government towards alleviating the manifold housing problems facing South Africa is evidenced by, for instance, the intention of the African National Congress (ANC) to sign and ratify the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, as set forth in its Reconstruction and Development Programme. Through the ratification of the Covenant, the new Government will at last add South Africa to the list of 130
other countries which have undertaken to respect, protect and fulfil, among other rights, the right to adequate housing established in article 11.1. Moreover, the ANC goal of providing, through various means, adequate homes to 1 million South African families within five years is equally laudable and should receive widespread support from the international community.
8. The housing dilemmas facing South Africa are indeed massive, and much will need to be accomplished to ensure in a relatively short period improved housing conditions for millions and millions of South Africans still residing in townships or squatter settlements across the land. This undertaking, to succeed, will necessarily be based on the principles of human rights and postulated on the indispensability of a popularly-inspired, participatory approach to housing which simultaneously involves dwellers in all aspects of the housing process and in which the local, provincial and national
Governments ensure that laws inconsistent with housing rights are repealed, that land and housing tenure are provided to all dwellers currently lacking such protections as a matter of right and that housing interests are properly balanced.
9. Much of the same could be said of the recent developments in the Gaza Strip and Jericho and the growing official responsibilities of the Palestinian authorities. Few issues are as fundamental to the Palestinian people as housing and, as is well known, the Israeli Government has used the housing sphere for decades for the dual ends of crushing Palestinian
resistance and marginalizing the population, as well as seeking to consolidate its hold over the occupied territories through the construction of alien Israeli settlements. Here again, the housing domain will be the key in determining any future progress in the reconciliation process, in improving the living conditions and livelihood of the Palestinian population and in generating social stability.
10. The cases of South Africa and Palestine illustrate the global imperative of housing rights and why this right requires constant attention, reaffirmation and commitment by all parties concerned. When housing rights are forgotten by Governments, this can be a fundamental cause of instability, violence and despair. And when freedom comes to lands so long oppressed, housing rights must be secured, for without them severe problems will never be far off. Both the South Africans and Palestinians are beset with substantial financial and other practical limitations which may limit their abilities to ensure the widespread enjoyment of housing rights for all within a short period of time. While international assistance of the appropriate kind, spent in the right way and controlled democratically, will assuredly yield some positive results, many efforts can be undertaken with little or no financial implications which could go far towards promoting housing rights in these lands. It is hoped that such measures as have been elaborated extensively in earlier reports of the Special Rapporteur will be embraced and applied widely and comprehensively as a first and obvious step towards transforming the housing sector into a central domain of justice for peoples ruthlessly subjected to oppression and domination for so long.

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