[Webinar] It Takes Legal Empowerment to Solve the Housing Rights Crisis


Access to justice for the right to housing

The UN Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing, Leilani Farha, recently launched a report on Access to justice for the right to housing. According to the report, an estimated 1.8 billion people lack adequate housing; twenty-five percent of the world’s urban population lives in informal settlements, and homelessness and forced evictions are on the rise in virtually every country.

On April 23, we held a webinar organized in collaboration with International Development Research Centre, Canada, and led by Ms. Farha and a group of grassroots activists. They discussed findings from the report, how it can be used as a tool to advocate for policy change, and why “access to justice for the right to housing is inseparable from the right itself.”

The Rapporteur underscored that “the global housing crisis is rooted in a crisis in access to justice because without access to justice, housing is not properly recognized, understood or addressed as a human right.” The report identifies ten key principles, derived from international human rights law obligations, which States must satisfy to ensure access to justice for various components of the right to housing.

Grassroots Presenters

This webinar provided space for frontline practitioners to reflect on their experiences and catalogue the challenges and successes they’ve faced.

We heard from Justice and Empowerment Initiatives on how they support the Nigerian Slum / Informal Settlement Federation to empower poor and marginalized individuals and communities to lead the changes that they would like to see in their own communities.

@andrewmaki @FredPatrick @annamaitland @mschapman @OlusolaBabalola @OhTimehin @Cathawomolo @fxgold @joy2dworld @BUEZEATTORNEY

We also heard from Katiba Institute, on how they work in of Nairobi’s informal settlements (Kenya) with an interdisciplinary team with holistic strategies to support tenure security, equitable access to services, and justice for residents of Nairobi’s informal settlements.

The Civil Association for Equality and Justice (Asociación Civil por la Igualdad y la Justicia (ACIJ)) from Argentina reflected on their experience working for more than ten years with informal settlement dwellers in Buenos Aires on housing rights, access to public services and urban integration.

Please check out this resource from ACIJ:

@felipemesel @gtizio @pablovitale @SebastianPilo @echegoyemberry2014

Listen to a recording of this webinar here

Comments and questions from registrants are copied below


Wonderful topic, I hope to be very interesting for the participants for the aim of solving the problem Housing crisis


Looking forward to tomorrow’s webinar on legal empowerment strategies to securing the right to adequate housing!


Great to see you here, @andrewmaki! As the webinar wraps up as I type, let us know here if you have any burning questions. The full recording will be made available for those who missed it.

Welcome @kalchy, also in Nigeria, who shared the following question elsewhere:

How do we end the problem of forced eviction of the citizens without compensation. How do we engage the government to enforce the judgement? I need some international decided cases which compel the government to compensate the evictee and how the order(s) were executed.

1 Like

Hello everyone and thank you for tuning in! I am copying here the questions that we received during the webinar, in hopes that we can continue the discussion on the forum.

  • @Romuald Ngono Otongo- L’accès au logement des peuples autochtones au Cameroun est préoccupant. Les politiques d’exploitation des ressources naturelles ont dans la plupart des cas affecté leur logment. Comment en absence de reconnaissance de leur spécificté et face à d’autres obstacles comme la citoyenneté (abscence de carte nationale d’iedentité) l’accès à la justice peut servir de levier au droit au logement? // Access to housing for indigenous peoples in Cameroon is worrying. Natural resource exploitation policies have in most cases affected their housing. How, in the absence of recognition of their specificity and in the face of other obstacles such as citizenship (absence of a national identity card), can access to justice can serve as a lever for the right to housing?

    Le droit au logment au Cameroun est étroitement lié au droit foncier dans la plupart des cas les décisions rendues par le juge se fondent sur les droits que l’individu a sur la terre. En l’absence de droit sur la terre le justiciable est débouté. comment peut-on mettre en relief tous ces droits (droit au juge, droit au logement et droits fonciers) pour permettre une application droit au logement dans un contexte de non reconnaissance de droit par les textes en vigueur au Cameroun? // The right to housing in Cameroon is closely related to land law in most cases the decisions rendered by the judge are based on the rights that the individual has on the land. In the absence of right on the land the litigant is rejected. how can we highlight all these rights (right to the judge, right to housing and land rights) to allow application of the right to housing in a context of non-recognition of rights by the texts in force in Cameroon?

  • Amanda Flores- Hello! This is a wonderful webinar. I’m very interested in it because I wrote my undergraduate thesis on this topic as it relates to informal settlements of urban indigenous people in Bolivia. So my question is, how can you integrate awareness of racial discrimination and its relationship to exclusion from resources (which in turn leads to inadequate housing) into urban planning and helping to ensure access to justice for those who feel like the justice system is hostile to them, thanks to this discrimination? Thank you!

  • M. Sahr Nouwah- How do we link access to justice, land rights and rights to housing. This is because land owners have got the potential to build homes for themselves and their future next of kins.

  • @Hiba Hiba Muhammad Hello and thank you for the presentation. My question to Liliane is how will national policies address issues related to the right to housing vs the right to private ownership especially in informal settlements that are privately owned and tenants are under constant threat of eviction. Thank you again.

  • @Bassyjnr This is a great session, this is Bassey, I work in Nigeria. Please tell Meghan I’ve tried to reach her and her organization (JEI) but there’s been no response. I’d love for us to collaborate and work on this issue.

  • @RostyslavR Rostyslav Korotin- There is a mutual non-recognition of documents for housing (NGA and GCA) in Ukraine, in connection with the armed conflict. There is a process when beneficiaries who had the legal documents before the armed conflict, are experience difficulties in obtaining inheritance, purchase agreements or gift agreement of housing. They forced to provide deals and inheritance according the so-called LPR & DPR. It depends on the will of local officials on NGCA and has is risky for the beneficiaries who lives on NGCA. In other hand, the simultaneous execution of a transaction according to the rules of the NGCA and GCA has difficulties due to the fact that GCA legislation is not changed for situation then armed conflict is ongoing. Some beneficiaries do nothing and can put them into jeopardize to stay without any legal documents.

    Even those who decide for themselves to obtain an inheritance under the law of GCA (Ukraine), have difficulty when it comes to property or the testator from NGCA. All of them are sent to court

  • Mandisa Shandu- How have some of the participants negotiated the tension raised by Maria regarding property rights vs housing rights - i.e. has there been an ability to impose a postive right on the private sector to protect and advance the right to housing

    The discussions has largely revolved around access to justice to protect vulnerably housed people from being evicted, displaced or being rendered homeless. Are there an experiences of using the courts and justice systems to compel state and private actors to proactively deliver on access to adequate housing

  • @Bakkidde Berna Bakkidde from Uganda. Thanks for the presentations and opinions. How do we stregthen the national insitutions especially in ensuring access to Justice by citizens. In Uganda it is sometimes regarded as ineffective.


Hi, learn more about the efforts that Katiba Institute has been contributing to in the Mukuru informal settlement in Nairobi here: Mukuru rising