Responsibilities of sub-national governments with respect to the right to adequate housing


In her first report to the General Assembly, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Ms Leilani Farha, outlines some of the priority themes for her mandate (A/69/274).

Among others, she identifies the important role of governments at the sub-national level (state, provincial and municipal) in the implementation of the right to adequate housing. In her view, in many countries sub-national levels of government hold key responsibilities for a range of programs and policies linked to adequate housing, including not only housing programmes and strategies, but also other issues such as income assistance, support to particular marginalized and vulnerable groups, and provision of water, sanitation, electricity and other utilities, or implementation of strategies to address homelessness.

Since under international law, accountability to human rights norms and standards operates primarily through the national level government, there are often particular challenges facing countries in ensuring implementation of the right to adequate housing by sub-national levels of government. Hence, the Special Rapporteur has decided to focus her first thematic report to the Human Rights Council, pursuant resolutions 15/08 and 25/17, on the question of enhancing accountability to international human rights norms and standards of sub-national governments in relation to adequate housing. The report will be presented at the 28th session of the Council (March 2015).

The Special Rapporteur is mindful of diverse domestic arrangements of responsibilities among various levels of government. She wishes to better understand those arrangements and existing mechanisms for monitoring and accountability as they relate to the right to adequate housing.

Questionnaire for Governments and other relevant actors

This questionnaire is designed to invite Governments and other relevant actors, such as National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations, networks, associations, UN Agencies and entities, and others with relevant information to share contributions and inputs for the report.

It aims to identify key challenges in relation to the implementation of the right to housing by sub-national levels of government. It also aims to identify illustrative examples of the kinds of issues, and new and innovative strategies that have been developed to address these issues, or other examples of good practices. The Special Rapporteur also hopes to learn of sub-national initiatives to ensure accountability to the right to adequate housing, in particular to those vulnerable to rights violations (eg. incorporating the right to adequate housing, non-discrimination and other housing-related rights into city, provincial/state Charters).

All responses to the Questionnaire will be posted in this webpage, except if indicated otherwise.

Questionnaires in English | French | Spanish

Submission of responses and contributions

The study does not intend to address the detailed distribution of responsibilities in each country, but aims to focus on an overview of challenges and examples. The Special Rapporteur welcomes a brief overview of how responsibilities are divided up and some concrete examples of practices and initiatives put in place to address various issues and challenges.

When possible, please send links or copies of any law, regulation, policy or other document related to your answers. Due to limited capacity for translation, we kindly request that you submit your answers, if possible, in English, Spanish or French.

Deadline: Friday, 31 October 2014.

Please send your responses preferably via email to:, or to:

UN Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights
Special Procedures Branch,
Palais Wilson, Room 3-077
CH – 1211, Geneva 10