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  • Forced eviction
  • This term is defined in international law as “the permanent or temporary removal against their will of individuals, families and/or communities from the homes and/or land [that] they occupy, without the provision of, and access to, appropriate forms of legal or other protection.[1] Forced evictions can occur for many reasons including development (dams, road construction, mineral extractions), urban renewal and city beautification, conflict over land ownership, clearing of land for agribusiness, mega events (Olympics, World Cup, Commonwealth Games), as well as internal displacement and forced relocations in the context of armed conflict and refugee movements.

    Forced evictions are primarily related to the right to adequate housing, found in article 11 International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Protection against forced evictions can also be found in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) which guarantees against “arbitrary or unlawful interference” with one’s home (article 17.1).

    Forced evictions often occur in situations where persons or communities lack secure tenure of housing or land. The UN Human Rights Commission stresses the importance of securing tenure to prevent forced evictions by urging “Governments to confer legal security of tenure on all persons currently threatened with forced eviction and to adopt all necessary measures giving full protection against forced eviction, based upon effective participation, consultation and negotiation with affected persons or groups.”[2] Creating legal protections in critical, and is encouraged in the ICESCR, as all signatory states are to work towards the protection of the listed human rights through “all appropriate means, including particularly the adoption of legislative measures” (article 2.1).

    If evictions are deemed to be justified, they should be “carried out in strict compliance with the relevant provisions of international human rights law and in accordance with general principles of reasonableness and proportionality” (Gen. Comment 7, para. 14). Additionally, if evictions occur there are appropriate procedural protections what should be implemented (see Gen. Comment 7, paras. 15 & 16).

    [1]Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, General Comment 7, para. 3.

    [2]  Commission on Human Rights, “Forced evictions,” Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/77, UN Doc. E/CN.4/RES/1993/77.

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