21/03/2006 The Special Procedures

Report of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, Miloon Kothari (2005)

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The present report is submitted in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 2004/21.

The purpose of the mission to the Islamic Republic of Iran of the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living was to examine and report on the status of the realization of adequate housing as a component of the right to an adequate standard of living, with particular attention to aspects of gender equality and non-discrimination. He also sought to engage in dialogue with the Government, United Nations and international agencies and civil society, and to identify practical solutions and best practices in the realization of rights related to his mandate.

The Special Rapporteur commends the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran for extending a standing invitation to all thematic special procedures of the Commission on Human Rights and welcomes the willingness of the Government to implement the right to adequate housing and related rights recognized in the Iranian Constitution and in human rights treaties. The report draws attention to a number of positive trends and best practices observed by the Special Rapporteur during his mission, such as the considerable number of governmental bodies carrying out work to improve housing conditions in the country, the serious attempts made by the Government to ensure access to water, electricity and sanitation across Iran since the Revolution, the emphasis given in governmental housing policies to vulnerable and marginalized groups, such as widow heads of household and deprived recently-married couples, as well as the reconstruction efforts in Bam and preventive measures undertaken in disaster-prone areas.

The Special Rapporteur also raises concerns with respect to existing obstacles to the realization of the human right to adequate housing. The challenges refer mainly to the prohibitive costs of housing in the country and policies and programmes which do not seem to result in improved access to adequate housing for the very poor. The Special Rapporteur has identified four main elements that may help to explain such failure: (a) inaccessibility of government credit facilities, leasing and pro-housing savings programmes to the very poor; (b) distortions in government incentives to large-scale builders for the production of low-price housing units; (c) urban bias in the planning of housing programmes; and (d) the lack of coordination between different government branches, agencies and organizations responsible for implementation. In addition, the Special Rapporteur also would like to express concern for the continued discrimination faced by ethnic and religious minorities and nomadic groups, as reflected in the disproportionately poor housing and living conditions of these groups; the considerable number of alleged cases of land confiscation and forced evictions; discrimination against women with respect to housing rights, land, inheritance and property; and the poor and limited quantity and quality of basic services provided to informal settlements and poor neighbourhoods.

Throughout his report, the Special Rapporteur also tries to highlight progress made and the potential scope for further action. He formulates a number of recommendations to the Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran, including: legal and administrative review of the doctrine of “eminent domain” that prevents individuals and groups from challenging State acquisition of housing and land; the development of further policies to ensure women’s equal access to housing, land, property and inheritance; adoption of policies to avoid land and housing speculation and “commodification”; further attention to historically marginalized provinces, such as Ilam, Khuzestan and Sistan-Baluchestan; public participation in the elaboration of development plans and in the preparation and assessment of housing projects; and the reinforcement, expansion and implementation of policies aimed at groups in vulnerable situations and ethnic and religious minorities, such as Kurds, Baha’is, Laks and Arabs.