14 June 2013
GENEVA, 14 June 2013 - On the eve of 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup in Brazil, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on adequate housing, Raquel Rolnik, said today: “I acknowledge that mega sporting events can be an opportunity to enhance access to adequate housing, for example, by providing better transportation systems and environmental improvements in the host cities. However, past experience has shown that these events often result in forced evictions, displacement, sweeping operations against the homeless and a general augmentation of the cost of adequate housing.”
“The situation is, unfortunately, not different in Brazil as we speak. We expected that the champion of many football cups would use this opportunity to show the world it is also a champion of the right to housing, in particular for people living in poverty, but the information I have received shows otherwise,” Ms. Rolnik added.
On 15 June, Brazil will inaugurate the 2013 FIFA Confederations Cup, an international football tournament that serves as a prelude to the 2014 World Cup, also to take place in Brazil. The Olympic Games are also planned in several of the same host cities in 2016. The organization of back-to-back mega events of this kind is at the centre of the urban planning and development policies in the country.
During the past three years, the independent expert has received allegations of evictions without due process or in detriment of international human rights standards. In various cases, residents have not been consulted and have not had the opportunity to participate in decisions having a grave impact on their standard of living. Concerns have also been expressed about very low compensation that might lead to the creation of new informal settlements with inadequate living conditions or greater rates of homelessness.
“As I have said many times, including in communications with the State and local authorities in Brazil, they must refrain from forced evictions in the preparation for mega-events. Where evictions are justified, they should be undertaken in full compliance with the relevant procedures and international instruments and guidelines. Above all, authorities should avoid at all costs any negative impacts on then human rights of the individuals and communities, especially the most vulnerable,” the UN independent expert highlighted.
“Given the large amount of financial resources that is invested in the preparation of these events, priority must be given to plans that create and improve low-income housing, including informal settlement upgrading and regularization. The authorities should ensure that their actions, and those of third parties involved in the organization of the events, contribute to the creation of a stable housing market and have a long term positive impact in the residents of the cities where events take place. Steps must be taken to prevent speculation in housing prices and to deliver more affordable housing.”
“I call for the adoption of urgent national regulations to guide the activities of local governments and third parties involved in these projects. This is an essential step in the effective preparation and planning for the series of mega-events taking place in Brazil. Just as the world will be watching the football champion, the international human rights community will also be watching how well the housing rights of all are protected in these coming weeks and years”, the Special Rapporteur said.
Ms. Raquel Rolnik (Brazil) was appointed as 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 by the UN Human Rights Council in May 2008. Ms.Rolnik is an architect and urban planner with extensive experience in the area of housing and urban policies.
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