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This paper was published to inform the round table talks on 'the importance of housing, land and property (HLP) rights in humanitarian response' held in Geneva. The NRC and IFRC are the global focal point agencies within the HLP Area of Responsibility under the Global Protection Cluster, a collaboration between NGOs, UN agencies, and academic institutions. The statement of the Global Protection Cluster provides the basis for this paper to develop a deeper understanding of how a human rights framework, specifically the right to adequate housing, can inform responses to disasters and conflict and promote protection within humanitarian operations. This paper aims to present that HLP rights is a cross-sectoral issue, and although this manifestation is acknowledged by some, it still represents a barrier to operations.
In her recent reports, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing has drawn attention to the 59.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced by armed conflicts,11 and over 19.3 million newly displaced due to disasters worldwide, who have lost their homes and are often subject to discrimination, stigmatization and social exclusion. Displaced people face particular obstacles in accessing adequate housing during displacement and are subject to forced evictions and other human
They also struggle to assert their rights to restitution or compensation for their housing, land and property upon return. In instances where return is not possible (for reasons of safety or because land is no longer viable), displaced persons may face relocation, which can lead to violations of their right to adequate housing because of resource constraints (land, financial and relevant expertise).
Equally for those affected but able to remain in or near their damaged or destroyed home, assistance may not be provided owing to their tenure status. Disputes over land and natural resources are often at the centre of conflict; territorial acquisition and the resulting occupation of homes and land drives displacement. When conflict ends, disputes over occupied property are a continued source of instability, preventing durable solutions for returning populations and threatening fragile peace agreements.