Habitat International Coalition

Housing and Land Rights Network


Welcome to the HIC-HLRN Housing and Land Rights Monitoring “Toolkit”


What needs fixing?

Over one billion people on this planet have no adequate shelter and, thus, are deprived of human well-being. War, occupation, discrimination, development projects, privatization and economic reforms, declining social services and the vagaries of “free” markets have conspired to impoverish people and segregate them in deplorable living conditions, while evicting millions from their rightful homes and lands. They all need your solidarity. Most of all, they need to feel that solidarity in practical and tangible ways.


The victims are keenly aware of their rights, even though they may not recite sections and articles from local law or international human rights treaties. Deprivation teaches them, as much of human kind before them, what constitute the needs and conditions for a life of dignity and basic well-being. For the unsheltered billion, these human values are conspicuous by their absence. As in the case of human rights in general, the content of the human right to adequate housing is articulated most clearly in the breach.


The good news is that these needs and values have translated into minimum standards in the laws of nations and peoples, the international human rights system of the United Nations and other multilateral and regional instruments. The States, as the legal personalities, have formed these law-making and monitoring mechanisms through the governments that represent them. The codification of the human right to adequate housing has taken a long and circuitous path, but its origin traces back to the same source as all other rights: the struggling nature and the claims of people.


Now that we have achieved a body of integrated and complementary agreements among States to guarantee the human right to adequate housing, the challenge remains in its application. The text of the law is inspiring for its lofty purpose. However, while the treaties embody binding obligations corresponding to each human right they enshrine, the language is often abstract and general. Much of the legal specificity lies in the jurisprudence that arises from the monitoring by the treaty bodies that meet in the halls of the United Nations. However, the ultimate object of the monitoring process derives from the very subjects of human rights law: the people.


One of the purposes of this HLRN Housing and Land Rights Monitoring “Toolkit” is to return the legal achievements to the people. For the human person, as both individual and member of a community, remain the ultimate source of human rights.



Who wants to fix it?

The Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) forms a part of the Habitat International Coalition (HIC), the global movement specialized in human settlements since 1976, comprised of some 450 members in 80 countries, in the North and South, East and West. They include NGOs, community-based organizations, social movements, academic and research centers, professional associations and like-minded individuals dedicated to the struggle against deprivation of human well-being and for realizing the human right to adequate housing for all.


As the structure within HIC that specializes in the human rights dimension of human settlements, HLRN joins forces with other specialized HIC structures and regional focal points within HIC to pool complementary capabilities and advocate common interests toward the human rights goal of adequate housing for all. However, we have not achieved that yet.


At the end of the last century, close to 1.2 billion people of the world survived in housing conditions that were unhealthy and precarious, including 100 million who were homeless. At least 600 million urban residents in developing countries, with these numbers swelling everyday, already live in housing of such poor quality and with such inadequate provision of water, sanitation and drainage that their lives and health are under continuous threat.


This “Toolkit” has been designed and developed through the combined experiences of Habitat International Coalition (HIC) members with a view to serving the housing rights defender in a wide range of tasks and strategic problem solving. HIC and its Housing and Land Rights Network welcome you to this Housing and Land Rights Monitoring “Toolkit” and wish you the best possible success. By applying this method, you join a worldwide effort to defend the common dignity of humankind by upholding human rights. The set of tools and techniques contained here provide a common reference for all human rights defenders that embodies our common purpose and implements the means available in the most practical way possible.


With the proper tools, the possible solutions are endless. Now, to work!


Another world is possible.


Joseph Schechla


Housing and Land Rights Network

Habitat International Coalition


For further correspondence on the application of the HLRN “Toolkit,” contact:


Coordination Office

Housing and Land Rights Network

Habitat International Coalition

7 Muhammad Shafiq Street, No. 8

Muhandisin, Cairo  Egypt


Tel/fax:                        +20 (0)2 347–4360

E-mail:             hlrn@hlrn.org

Website:          www.hlrn.org  and  www.hic-mena.org