International gathering discusses homelessness and human rights

Publish Date: 
Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Leilani Farha, and the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) concluded today in Buenos Aires an international expert consultation focused on homelessness and the right to housing.

The meeting brought together 25 experts from different regions and sectors to discuss the dire situation of homeless people around the world with a focus on the structural causes and consequences of homelessness. The group also discussed the alarming trend of discrimination, stigma and social exclusion of people due to their homeless status.  They shared effective strategies to address homelessness from a human rights perspective, with particular attention to access to justice.

“It is imperative that we start treating homelessness as an egregious violation of human rights and call for effective, immediate action” Leilani Farha, the independent expert, asserted.“So far, my research and discussions exposes that discrimination and stigmatization of those who are homeless is a common global phenomenon, affecting those who are already experiencing social discrimination and exclusion like migrants, children, and those with disabilities. Their already marginalized status makes them the scapegoats “ highlighted the independent expert.

Eduardo Reese, director of CELS’ Economic, Social and Cultural Rights programme, said that “the problem of homelessness is linked to the expulsive nature of real estate market dynamics, which is largely invisible. Public policies are needed to intervene in this cycle to guarantee respect for the right to adequate housing, understood as the right to access housing and all the goods and services required for a decent life: health, education, transportation, public services, etc. These policies are indispensable for tackling one of the main factors that reproduces poverty and inequality in the region.”

Participants included civil society organisations, researchers, litigators, and activist, as well as delegates of networks of leading organisations working on issues of poverty , homelessness and housing. The meeting is part of the preparation of the Special Rapporteur’s thematic report to the Council, to be presented at its 31st session in March 2016.

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