In the present report, the Special Rapporteur examines the issue of the right to housing for residents of informal settlements and the commitment made by States to upgrade such settlements by 2030. Nearly one quarter of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements or encampments, most in developing countries but increasingly also in the most affluent. Living conditions are shocking and intolerable. Residents often live without water and sanitation, and are in constant fear of eviction.
Past approaches have been premised on the idea of eliminating “slums”, often resorting to evictions and relocating residents to remote locations on the outskirts of cities. The present report proposes a very different, rights-based approach that builds upon informal settlement communities and their inherent capacities. It understands informality as resulting from systemic exclusion and advances a set of recommendations for supporting and enabling residents to become full participants in upgrading. The recommendations have their basis in international human rights obligations, particularly those flowing from the right to housing, and cover a number of areas, including the right to participation, access to justice, international cooperation and development assistance, environmental concerns, and business and human rights.
The report reaches some simple but urgent conclusions: the scope and severity of the living conditions in informal settlements make this one of the most pervasive violations of human rights globally. The world has come to accept the unacceptable. It is a human rights imperative that informal settlements be upgraded to meet basic standards of human dignity. Recognizing this, and mobilizing all actors within a shared human rights paradigm, can make the 2030 upgrading agenda achievable.