3 March 2016
The Human Rights Council held today a clustered interactive dialogue with John Knox, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and Leilani Farha, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing.
Mr. Knox said his report focused on two aspects of his mandate, namely on clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Increasing temperatures adversely affected a vast range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water, housing, development, and even the right to self-determination of peoples living in small island States. He described possible methods of implementing human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a healthy environment. They included but were not limited to disseminating information about the human rights norms relating to the environment and strengthening cooperation between different actors.
Ms. Farha noted that despite the fact that homelessness affected all countries, it was too often viewed as a social policy issue alone rather than as a human rights violation which could and should be remedied with human rights responses. Inequality and homelessness resulted from forced evictions, the failure of States to regulate rapid urbanization, discrimination and violence against women and persons with disabilities, or climate change. The common denominator was neglect and failure to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged. Homelessness was one of the most extreme forms of physical deprivation. She then presented the reports of the country visits she undertook in 2015 to Cabo Verde and Serbia.
Cabo Verde and Serbia spoke as concerned countries. The Deputy Ombudsman of Serbia also took the floor.
In the ensuing discussion on human rights and the environment, delegations highlighted the obligations of States and companies vis-a-vis the environment, noting that environmental problems also undermined human rights. They called on the Special Rapporteur to pay more attention to environmental transgressions by multinational corporations. Some delegations called for the creation of a standing forum within the Human Rights Council where experts on human rights and the environment could exchange their opinions and experiences.
As for the right to adequate housing and the problem of homelessness, speakers asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate further on the minimum elements that needed to be included in human rights based strategies to eliminate homelessness, and on good practices to ensure the participation of all stakeholders. They also wanted to know how to prevent evictions from leading to homelessness. Cross-sectoral approaches should be elaborated in close consultation with all relevant stakeholders and had to address the needs of vulnerable groups.
The following delegations participated in the clustered interactive dialogue: European Union, Pakistan on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Dominican Republic on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, South Africa on behalf of the African Group, Egypt, Brazil, China, Tunisia, Namibia, Nigeria, Ecuador, Costa Rica, Venezuela, Finland, El Salvador, Qatar, Philippines, South Africa, Slovenia, Bolivia, Iran, India, Paraguay, Cuba, Algeria, Switzerland, Morocco, Maldives, Georgia, Germany, France, Spain, Ethiopia, Mexico and Chile, as well as the United Nations Environment Programme and the United Nations Development Programme.
Scottish Human Rights Commission spoke in a video statement, as did the following non-governmental organizations: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Franciscans International, Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, Dominicans for Justice and Peace, Commission to Study the Organization of Peace, Friends World Committee for Consultation, International Lesbian and Gay Association, Caritas Internationalis, Alsalam Foundation, Centre for Legal and Social Studies, Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development, Human Rights Now, Espace Afrique International, International Lawyers Organization, United Villages and Global Network for Rights and Development.
The Council will at 4 p.m. start its clustered interactive dialogue with the Special Advisor of the Secretary-General on the prevention of genocide and the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders.
The Council has before it the Analytical study of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the relationship between climate change and the human right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health (A/HRC/31/36).
The Council has before it the Informal summary of inputs received on climate change (A/HRC/31/CRP.4).
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment (A/HRC/31/52).
The Council has before it the Summary report of the Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment on the expert seminar on the effective implementation of human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, challenges thereto and the way forward (A/HRC/31/53).
The Council has before it the Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context (A/HRC/31/54).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context – Mission to Cape Verde (A/HRC/31/54/Add.1).
The Council has before it an addendum to the Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context – Mission to Serbia and Kosovo – under UN Security Council resolution 1244 (A/HRC/31/54/Add.2).
Presentation of the Reports
JOHN H. KNOX, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said that four years ago, the Council had recognized that the human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment required clarification, and requested him to study those obligations. He would today be presenting two reports on two aspects of his mandate, namely on clarifying the human rights obligations relating to climate change, and on methods of implementing those obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Increasing temperatures of even one or two degrees adversely affected a vast range of human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water, housing, development, and even the right to self-determination of peoples living in small island States. He listed weather events of recent times, and emphasized that human rights obligations applied not only to decisions about how much climate protection to pursue, but also to the mitigation and adaptation measures through which the protection was achieved. Turning to his second report, he said it described possible methods of implementing human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a healthy environment. They included but were not limited to disseminating information about the human rights norms relating to the environment and strengthening cooperation between different actors. Looking ahead to future work, Mr. Knox said he was working with the Universal Rights Group and other partners on an online information hub for environmental human rights defenders, adding that he expected to make two country visits in 2016.
LEILANI FARHA, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, and on the right to non-discrimination in this context, presented her thematic report on the issue of homelessness and the right to adequate housing. Despite the fact that homelessness affected all countries, it was too often viewed as a social policy issue alone rather than as a human rights violation which could and should be remedied with human rights responses. Inequality and homelessness resulted from forced evictions, the failure of States to regulate rapid urbanization, discrimination and violence against women and persons with disabilities, or climate change. The common denominator was neglect and failure to respond to the needs of the most disadvantaged. Homelessness was one of the most extreme forms of physical deprivation. Homeless people were criminalized, stigmatized and discriminated against.
She then presented the reports of the country visits she undertook in 2015. She first commended Cabo Verde for the priority accorded to housing in recent years and for putting in place a legal framework consistent with the right to housing, but expressed concerns about the fact that its national housing system did not appear to be accessible to the poorest and most vulnerable. She welcomed efforts by the Government of Serbia to develop their legislation to combat discrimination against internally displaced persons, but regretted that limited attention had been paid to homelessness and called attention to the urgent need to eliminate and address housing discrimination against Roma, Ashkali and Egyptians. In Kosovo, she was concerned at the lack of specific policy and legislation to address the situation of people living in poverty, notably young people and women. In conclusion, she said that she would take part in the next Conference on Housing and Sustainable Urban Development (Habitat III), and would use this opportunity to ensure that a human rights dimension was clearly articulated in the outcome document and plan of action.
Statements by Affected Countries
Cabo Verde, speaking as a concerned country, stated that its commitment to securing the right to adequate housing was enshrined in the Constitution. The concept was clear and the Government had elaborated a national strategy on social protection in 2005, as well as a study on the situation of housing in 2008, which had led to the definition of the national system for social housing in 2010. In order to create conditions for adequate housing, the Government had decided to launch a programme to enlarge the offer of housing through a public construction programme and to finance loans. Cabo Verde contested some of the findings of the Special Rapporteur in her report, notably regarding illegal demolitions which threatened poor citizens. There were no illegal demolitions, it was clarified, but only demolitions when they were legally justified.
Serbia, speaking as a concerned country, pointed out that in the past two decades, Serbia had provided shelter and support for more than 800,000 refugees and was still making efforts for the sustainable integration of more than 300,000 refugees who had opted to stay in Serbia. Conditions for sustainable return of internally displaced persons to Kosovo and Metohija did not exist, even after 17 years of international presence. Those circumstances gravely impacted the realization of the right to adequate housing and to non-discrimination. Serbia would thus welcome a concrete recommendation regarding selective justice in Kosovo and Metohija when it came to property claims by internally displaced persons, which remained one of the key impending factors for voluntary returns and inter-community relations in Kosovo and Metohija.
Deputy Ombudsman of Serbia said that, since 2011 and the forced evictions of Roma families in the New Belgrade Block 72, it had called for the adoption by the Serbian Government of legislation governing its obligations in cases of evictions. Evictions carried out since then had not been coordinated and failed to comply with international standards. A draft law on housing was currently before the Parliament which recognized the State’s obligation to provide housing. Unfortunately, it did not foresee an obligation for public consultations, neither with beneficiaries nor with their potential neighbourhood.
European Union underlined the importance of protecting human rights in relation to climate adaptation and mitigation, and presented European Union measures to implement a green inclusive economy. On housing, the European Union said that Habitat III offered a unique opportunity to adopt a global “New Urban Agenda”, and asked how could urban areas be better planned and managed given the synergies between urbanization, sustainable development and climate change. Pakistan, speaking on behalf of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, said that everyone had the right to own property, and asked how to ensure adequate housing by 2030 while economic and development disparities continued. On the environment, the Organization asked for further clarification regarding the establishment of a mechanism on this issue by the Human Rights Council.
Dominican Republic, speaking on behalf of the Community of Latin American and Caribbean States, said that a holistic and inclusive approach was needed to achieve sustainable development through the protection of the environment, and underlined the importance of ensuring collective rights and social inclusion. Housing and development policies had to ensure equity, and a new urban agenda had to be adopted. South Africa, speaking on behalf of the African Group, said that African countries had committed to speed up actions to ensure adequate housing for everyone, and expressed concerns about the links between racism and homelessness. Turning to the environment, the African Group said that enhanced and speedy action to adapt to the impact of climate change was one of the best ways to ensure the full realization of human rights.
Egypt urged a more focused discussion on the particular vulnerabilities of homeless children and migrants as well as the negative consequences of the break-up of traditional family structures. On environmental issues, the Special Rapporteur was invited to focus his future work on linkages with social development and economic development. Brazil concurred that effective strategic policy responses to homelessness had to address social exclusion and housing deprivation, and also recognized that climate change might have negative impacts on the full enjoyment of human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights. China detailed national measures aimed at dealing with environmental issues, and on the issue of housing said that how to improve housing and homelessness were also important issues facing China, which had carried out construction of affordable housing.
Tunisia attached great importance to links between human rights and the environment because the Constitution stipulated the protection of the environment, and on housing said it was a topic related directly to exclusion and equality, agreeing with the Special Rapporteur that homelessness flouted the right to non-discrimination. Namibia said that a respected environment was good for the quality of life, which in turn was good for human rights, and also expressed agreement with the findings of the Special Rapporteur that homelessness as a global human rights crisis was directly linked to increased inequality of wealth and property. Nigeria called for the guarantee of the right to adequate housing as a fundamental principle, and also for intensified actions to promote affordable housing. On the subject of environmental issues, agreement was expressed with the findings of the Special Rapporteur that environmental degradation interfered with a wide range of human rights and that States had the obligation to make environmental information available in order to facilitate broad public participation.
Ecuador underscored the obligations of States and companies vis-a-vis the environment, noting that environmental problems also undermined human rights. It joined the call for an urgent international response to the shortage of adequate, safe and affordable housing, which was particularly felt in developing countries. Costa Rica agreed that a mitigation action vis-a-vis climate change should safeguard human rights. Special attention had to be paid to vulnerable groups in the area of adequate housing. Venezuela noted that more attention should have been paid by the Special Rapporteur to the environmental transgressions made by multinational corporations. As for adequate housing, it agreed that homelessness was a serious problem, adding that it was a political priority for Venezuela. Finland asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate further on the minimum elements that needed to be included in human rights based strategies to eliminate homelessness, and on good practices to ensure the participation of all stakeholders. El Salvador shared the idea of creating of a standing forum within the Human Rights Council where experts on human rights and the environment could exchange their opinions and experiences. As for adequate housing, the Government of El Salvador attached great importance to this issue. Qatar attached special importance to the provision of adequate housing for both its citizens and migrant workers. It had launched one of the largest worker cities, built according to international standards and criteria.
Philippines said an ambitious target for global greenhouse gas emission reductions and for a temperature goal of below 1.5 degrees Celsius was needed, as was scaling up additional and predictable means of implementation. The Philippines highlighted the importance of collective and collaborative action by all countries in order to address the adverse impacts of climate change. South Africa said that owing to injustices of the past, the challenge of homelessness had a bearing effect on the democratic nation’s ideal of attaining social cohesion, nation building as well as the triple challenge of poverty, inequality and unemployment. Climate change posed a risk to sustainable development, and therefore had to be addressed in a comprehensive manner and in the context of the right to development. Slovenia recognized that a clean, safe, healthy, and sustainable environment was fundamentally important for the realization of many other human rights, and welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s work in this respect. It supported the idea of mainstreaming a human rights perspective into the work of development, financial and environmental agencies.
Bolivia encouraged the Rio principle of common but differentiated responsibilities and shared the views that environmental agreements had an impact on all rights, including the right to development. The view of nature as a commodity could not be allowed to prevail. Bolivia welcomed the initiative of the establishment of a Climate Justice Court. Iran agreed on the three dimensions of homelessness, namely the absence of home, homelessness as a form of systemic discrimination and social exclusion, and homeless persons as rights holders who were resilient in the struggle for survival and dignity. The protection of the environment was a global responsibility, and common but differentiated responsibilities were a cornerstone to any global endeavours. India noted the concerns about the inadequate attention given to homelessness under the Millennium Development Goals, the Sustainable Development Goals, and HABITAT-III. The reasons for homelessness included an array of factors, both natural and human-made, and the importance of local initiatives could not be overstated.
Responses by the Panellists
JOHN KNOX, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said he appreciated all the statements made by the delegations. Responding to specific questions, he explained that it was hard to decide on universal human rights priorities in the context of the environment. He underlined two important priorities: ensuring international assistance from developed to developing countries, and local involvement in the designing of programmes. It was important to identify practical solutions, a constant theme of his mandate. He agreed with the emphasis placed on the conservation of nature, which was raised by Latin American countries, and pledged that he would focus more on the relationship between nature conversation and human rights.
LEILANI FARHA, Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, thanked delegates on their thoughtful comments and questions. When legitimate evictions had to be carried out, they should comply with international standards. Speaking of human rights obligations of sub-national governments, there were examples in a variety of places on dealing with the problem of homelessness. As for eliminating homelessness by 2030, human rights standards were applied contextually. The international standard was that States should use their available resources to the maximum extent. Regarding the key elements of the human rights based approach in eradicating homelessness, States were obliged to adopt and develop strategies with clear targets and timelines, prohibit discriminatory practices, and provide measures to guarantee access to justice.
Paraguay said that homelessness had the highest impact on the most vulnerable and required special attention. The right to housing was a universal right and the strategies to tackle it had to be framed in public policies which cut across sectors and at all levels of government. Paraguay defended public policies that protected homeless people from all kinds of discrimination. Cuba said that Fidel Castro had predicted the extinction of the human race due to the destruction of its natural habitat. The world was unable to sustain the current production models. On housing, Cuba had the political will to annually increase the number of dwellings, based on the principle that no Cuban should be allowed to go homeless. Algeria said the guarantee of the right to adequate housing was one of the priorities of the State, which had constructed more than two million housing units since 1999. The degradation of the environment affected directly the enjoyment of human rights, and it was necessary to develop a global response based on dialogue among all actors.
Switzerland shared the view that the elaboration of new binding instruments on human rights and the environment was not timely. There was a need to focus on the existing instruments such as the Sustainable Development Agenda 2030 which stressed human rights and the environment. Morocco gave great importance to tackling climate change, which threatened the achievement of human objectives. The Tangiers Appeal initiated by France and Morocco last year aimed at this direction. On the right to housing, Morocco had undergone a number of initiatives in this respect. Maldives said adequate housing continued to be a freedom that many could not afford, and one of the most pressing issues in Maldives was the lack of housing in growing cities. The Government’s policy framework in protecting the environment and on combatting climate change took a rights-based approach that aimed to appropriately manage the human dimension of climate change.
Georgia stated that widespread homelessness occurred in all countries and it particularly affected women, young people and children. Cross-sectoral approaches should be elaborated in close consultation with all relevant stakeholders and had to address the needs of vulnerable groups. Germany noted that homeless people were a marginalized social group that was often ignored and not seen, but which was constantly growing. It asked the Special Rapporteur to elaborate on strategies that were most promising in reducing homelessness. France emphasized that a safe, healthy and sustainable environment was key to the full enjoyment of human rights, in particular the right to life, health, water and sanitation. As for adequate housing, France had adopted programmes to build affordable housing. Spain recognized the crucial need to protect the environment and human rights within that context. It paid special attention to adequate housing and joined the call for the protection of marginalized persons in that respect. How could the marginalized take part in the design of relevant policies?
Ethiopia advocated for the greater participation of international societies and local communities to bring about sustainable growth and protect those most vulnerable to environment changes. Regarding adequate housing, Ethiopia had been implementing integrated, participatory and pro-poor programmes for the past 15 years. United Nations Environment Programme stated that it had continued its efforts to increase awareness of the interconnectedness between human rights and the environment, including climate change. It welcomed the Special Rapporteur’s focus on ecosystems and biological diversity. Mexico noted that vulnerable groups faced major challenges in trying to enjoy the right to housing, which was why States had to engage in the fight against homelessness and discrimination in that context. Mexico asked the Special Rapporteur how to ensure that evictions did not lead to homelessness.
Chile reflected upon the negotiations in Latin America and the Caribbean on environmental democracy and the principles of the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development. Chile placed importance on the key principles of governance and equity, and believed in a society guided by equality, informed participation and governance. This was emphasized in the Paris Agreement on Climate Change. United Nations Development Programme commended the special focus accorded to climate change in the report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, and noted the reference to the adverse effects on the enjoyment of human rights by a two degree Celsius increase in temperature. It was not only necessary to implement the contributions but to strengthen them. It was equally important to close the gap.
Scottish Human Rights Commission, in reference to the implementation of Scotland’s National Action Plan for Human Rights, said that one of its priority actions was to empower people experiencing poor housing conditions across Scotland. The project created an opportunity for people living in the area of Leith, Edinburgh, to hold public authorities to account where their rights, for example to an adequate standard of living, were not being upheld. Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, on behalf of severals NGOs1, said that from Australia to the United States to Argentina, communities reported violations related to the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. Governmental conduct infringing on human rights included damage to potable water, and refusal to offer protection from the hazards of unconventional gas mining. In response to this, Sisters of Mercy recently published a guide for human rights based advocacy addressing the risks of fracking. Franciscans International said objective 13 of the Sustainable Development Goals aimed to “take urgent action to combat climate change and its impact.” The Human Rights Council had a responsibility to take further steps to elaborate on the recommendations put forward in the Report of the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment. Centre for Environmental and Management Studies, said that in the region of Gilgit Baltistan, the proposed China Pakistan corridor denied the indigenous people their basic rights to natural resources and would affect their environmental rights adversely. In Punjab, the environmental interests of the people of Sindh had also been sacrificed since the inception of Pakistan. The construction of dams raised serious environmental justice concerns.
Dominicans for Justice and Peace said that 136 persons in the Dominican Republic were currently without housing after being forcibly evicted from their homes during the night of 26 January by the Central Romana Corporation in the communities of Villa Guerrero and Los Cajuilitos in the Province of El Seybo. Commission to Study the Organization of Peace said that there was a constant disintegration of the environment in the region of Giligit Baltistan in Pakistan, with dams under construction that would uproot individuals and break their hundreds of years old association with their inborn area and civilization. Friends World Committee for Consultation stressed the importance of ensuring that the population, including indigenous people and local farmers, were included in decision-making related to land and climate change in order to prevent conflicts. States should act to ensure that the most vulnerable communities did not suffer profoundly.
International Lesbian and Gay Association, in a joint statement with Federatie van Nederlandse Verenigingen tot Integratie Van Homoseksualiteit - COC Nederland; The Swedish Federation of LGBT Rights, RFSL; and Allied Rainbow Communities International, thanked the Special Rapporteur for having drawn the attention of States to young lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, who were shockingly overrepresented in homeless populations in some countries, and also asked which measures the Rapporteur thought States should take to prevent and protect those individuals from homelessness. Caritas Internationalis expressed concern about the criminalization of poverty through measures and legislation that prohibited basic acts such as sleeping, eating, and showering in public space, which affected negatively those living or engaging in prostitution in the street. Alsalam Foundation, in a joint statement, praised the Rapporteur’s work protecting the environment as a means of supporting human rights, adding that in Bahrain, governmental land reclamation projects had irreparably damaged the country’s marine environment. The Rapporteur was asked for recommendations for States to address the effects of land reclamation and pollution on health and development.
Centre for Legal and Social Studies expressed agreement with the Rapporteur that increased inequality and wealth were issues which required urgent attention from States, further noting that the report of the Special Rapporteur praised a law on fair access to housing, which included a series of tools with the goal of doing away with speculative practices. Maarij Foundation for Peace and Development said that as mentioned in the report, what homeless people wanted was to be recognized and treated as human beings with inherent dignity and respect, also adding concern at the situation of homeless children and youth who were condemned to lives of marginalization and poverty. Human Rights Now said that in the wake of the Tohoku earthquake and the Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear accident, the Government of Japan’s response had been insufficient to protect the right to housing of the people affected by that disaster. The organization requested that the Council monitor the situation of victims, and called for the Special Rapporteur to conduct an official visit to Japan and prevent further violations. Espace Afrique International said that countering homelessness was vital, and the international community had to encourage the spread of good practices when it came to providing decent housing. Civil society was urged to address specific cases to the Rapporteur so she could investigate.
International Lawyers Organization recognized that health was mentioned in the very first paragraph of Article 1 of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as one of the most serious effects of climate change, but regretted that the World Health Organization had never adopted a resolution on the right to health and had in the past twelve months intentionally avoided dealing with climate change and health at its Executive Boards and World Health Assembly. United Villages said responsible acts were needed on a daily basis by citizens. Human rights were intertwined; therefore solutions had to be global. Industrial pollution and the production of chemicals had appalling consequences on the environment, with an adverse effect on air and water. Irresponsible modernisation of agriculture led to the degradation of the right to food and health. Global Network for Rights and Development said that viruses were more likely to thrive in warm and moist environments. With the recent outbreak of Zika, the link between the environment and health had been established. This also affected how quickly the virus developed in the mosquitoes. Urgent action was needed.
JOHN KNOX, Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, said he had strengthened his collaboration with other United Nations organizations, as well as other regional and international agencies as they tried to integrate environment and development issues. On participation, it was important to build opportunities for public participation early in the decision-making process. In order to do this, it was important to provide access to information in an easy format and build the capacity of local communities. On greater commitments, Mr. Knox emphasized that States had already taken the most important step, namely recognizing that the commitments they had already undertaken were not enough. Paris was the first step in the process for the coming decades, and the world need not wait until 2018 to start strengthening efforts. Iceland already received almost all of its electricity from renewable sources, and other countries, such as Uruguay and Morocco, who were close to this goal, had to share information. Regarding how to better integrate the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in work plans, he stated that the Secretariat was aware of and committed to implementing a human rights perspective. There were opportunities for technical assistance for States and organizations on how to avoid problems of environmental degradation. With regards to the creation of a new mandate on human rights and climate change, Mr. Knox agreed that the more mandates there were, the better, but confirmed that climate change was also in his mandate, and he would continue to pursue it.
LEILANI FARHA, Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, said that it was important to have cross regional co-sponsorship of the resolution. Measuring homelessness was problematic. It should not be measured too broadly because then the problem would not be addressed properly. In many places in Europe and America, there were many useful housing programmes. Responding to the question on how to best encourage marginalized groups to participate in the development of homelessness policies, Ms. Farha noted that it was always important to engage with vulnerable groups and not to be paternalistic. Policies themselves should include mechanisms that would benefit vulnerable groups. As for ensuring that housing policies were non-discriminatory, the economic and social situation should be recognized as a ground for discrimination. Regarding evictions, any eviction had to follow international standards. It was important not to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons and to recognize them as a group that experienced discrimination. Finally, Ms. Farha said she was pleased that there seemed to be an emerging consensus that homelessness was an issue that required increased attention.
1Joint statement: Sisters of Mercy of the Americas; Edmund Rice International Limited; Franciscans International; International Presentation Association; Loretto Community (Sisters of Loretto); Food & Water Watch; and Temple of Understanding.
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