Report on the Right to Life and + the Right to Adequate Housing (2016)

8 August 2016
Special Rapporteur on adequate housing
To the General Assembly at its 71st session


In this report, the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing focuses on the indivisibility and interdependence between the right to life and the right to adequate housing.

The fiftieth anniversary of the adoption of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) provides an occasion to assess the effect of the division of the unified rights in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights into two categories, placing the right to life within the ICCPR and the right to adequate housing in the ICESCR.

Negative vs. Positive Obligations

While it is well recognized that the right to life belongs “at the same time to the domain of civil and political rights as well as economic, social and cultural rights”, the Special Rapporteur is concerned that violations of the right to life linked to homelessness and inadequate housing have too often been ignored. The report considers whether a pattern of neglect of issues of inadequate housing and homelessness in relation to the protection of the right to life can be traced to false divisions between categories of rights, or to the misunderstanding that the right to life imposes primarily negative obligations on states, rather than positive obligations. 

The report reviews data on health, mortality and morbidity rates linked to inadequate housing and homelessness, and considers the real experiences that lie behind the statistics. It explores the nature of state obligations to take positive measures to protect the right to life in this context and examine responses of courts, human rights bodies and governments to violations of the right to life linked to inadequate housing and homelessness. The report also looks at how particular groups such as women, indigenous peoples, people with disabilities, migrants, and others are disproportionately affected by violations of the right to life linked to inadequate housing and homelessness.

Access the full report A/71/310 in all six UN languages.


The Special Rapporteur invites Governments and other relevant actors, such as National Human Rights Institutions, civil society organisations, networks and others with relevant information to share contributions and inputs for her report.

Questionnaire for Government and National Human Rights Institutions (English | FrançaisEspañol)

Questionnaire for civil society organisations and networks (English | FrançaisEspañol)

Inputs received


National Human Rights Institutions

CSOs and Individuals