What _is_ the Right to Housing?

Darwin College Humanities and Social Sciences Group
Dr. Jessie Hohmann, Darwin College, Cambridge
Entertaining Room, Darwin College
Tuesday, November 17, 2009 - 13:10 to 14:00

A human right to housing is included in many of the major human rights treaties around the world, as well as in over 50 national constitutions. Meanwhile, more and more people around the globe find themselves living in terrible conditions of homelessness, insecurity and marginalisation. So what is this right to housing, and why does it appear to be so ineffective?

Drawing on the conclusions of my PhD, I will discuss how it remains difficult to say what the right to housing actually is, and what it guarantees for people or requires of governments. The problems in defining the right to housing are not merely academic, but have a real impact on the enjoyment of housing around the world.

My talk will touch on the paradox of the increased acceptance and use of the right to housing while the living conditions of much of the world’s population worsen, meanwhile illustrating how the problems with the right to housing can impact on human rights more broadly.

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