20 years Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing: taking stock – moving forward

14 June 2021
Issued by:
Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Mr. Balakrishnan Rajagopal
To the 74th session of the Human Rights Council in June 2021
A/47/43 - Report summary English | Français | Español

Summary of the report

20 years Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing: taking stock – moving forwardThe report undertakes and assessment of the achievements and contributions made by the Special Rapporteur at local, country and global level since the establishment of the mandate and makes some recommendations how to further enhance the working methods of the mandate, including through use of virtual meetings for more inclusive consultations and human rights advocacy including with Government officials working at national and local level.

The report highlights that the mandate has since it was established contributed to the development of important guidelines on forced evictions, security of tenure and for the implementation of the right to adequate housing. In addition the mandate contributed to the awareness raising through more than 30 thematic reports, 34 country visits and the participation in numerous international events and other activities. More than 380 communications to States and non-state actors led to the prevention of some violations of the right to adequate housing or provided increased public scrutiny of forced evictions, homelessness, inadequate housing conditions and other violations of the right to adequate housing.

However, progress towards realizing the right to adequate housing globally has been limited. During recent decades, the percentage of the urban population living in informal settlements with insufficient security or tenure has grown. Homelessness has been on the increase and the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in increasing housing insecurity for many. Many cities have become increasingly segregated along social, racial, ethnic and other lines, undermining equal access to the right to adequate housing, public services and other rights. Home ownership has become stronger concentrated, and housing has become increasingly a tool for investment and enrichment of large real estate investors, while more and more people struggle to find affordable housing in our cities.

In response to these trends the Special Rapporteur highlights seven priorities that will guide his work: (1) The impact of COVID-19 pandemic on the right to adequate housing; (2) discrimination and spatial segregation; (3) climate change and rights-compliant resilient housing; (4) conflict, displacement, and the humanitarian response to housing; (5) the development of guidelines on resettlement and relocation; (6) land governance, eminent domain, and solidarity economy; and (7) the role of public and private actors in ensuring affordable and accessible housing.

The report concludes with recommendations for enhancing the capacity of the Special Rapporteur for follow-up and for responding to communications and making use of new virtual communication with States and other stakeholders in addition to in person meetings.


The report was developed on the basis of a stock-taking exercise that looked at all areas covered by the mandate and the various ‘means of action’ used by the Special Rapporteur during the past 20 years. The stock-taking exercise that the objective is to identify, in particular:

  1. main contributions of the Special Rapporteur to the promotion and realization of the right to adequate housing at local, country, regional or global level;
  2. core lessons learned;
  3. aspects that could be strengthened, for example, with respect to working methods and collaboration with UN bodies, States, and regional and national human rights mechanisms, civil society, the business sector and other stakeholders; and
  4. challenges and positive developments concerning the realization of the right to adequate housing in in your country, at regional or global level.

Online Questionnaire

Information was primarily be collected through an online survey.
Access the online survey | Questions in Word format


The Special Rapporteur also held on 7 October and 8 October 2020. representatives from UN agencies, local governments, civil society, national human rights institutions and other stakeholders to take part in virtual consultations to inform his report.

Replies to the online survey

Additional submissions received


National Human Rights Institutions

Civil Society