CESCR General Comment No. 4: The Right to Adequate Housing
(Art. 11 (1) of the Covenant)
Adopted at the Sixth Session of the Committee on Economic,
Social and Cultural Rights, on 13 December 1991
(Contained in Document E/1992/23)

1.
Pursuant to article 11 (1) of the Covenant, States parties “recognize the right
of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself and his family, including
adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living
conditions”. The human right to adequate housing, which is thus derived from the
right to an adequate standard of living, is of central importance for the enjoyment of
all economic, social and cultural rights.
2.
The Committee has been able to accumulate a large amount of information
pertaining to this right. Since 1979, the Committee and its predecessors have
examined 75 reports dealing with the right to adequate housing. The Committee has
also devoted a day of general discussion to the issue at each of its third (see
E/1989/22, para. 312) and fourth sessions (E/1990/23, paras. 281-285). In addition,
the Committee has taken careful note of information generated by the International
Year of Shelter for the Homeless (1987) including the Global Strategy for Shelter to
the Year 2000 adopted by the General Assembly in its resolution 42/191
of 11 December 1987. 1 The Committee has also reviewed relevant reports and other
documentation of the Commission on Human Rights and the Sub-Commission on
Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities. 2
3.
Although a wide variety of international instruments address the different
dimensions of the right to adequate housing3 article 11 (1) of the Covenant is the most
comprehensive and perhaps the most important of the relevant provisions.
4.
Despite the fact that the international community has frequently reaffirmed the
importance of full respect for the right to adequate housing, there remains a
disturbingly large gap between the standards set in article 11 (1) of the Covenant and

1

2

3

Official Records of the General Assembly, Forty-third Session, Supplement No. 8, addendum
(A/43/8/Add.1).
Commission on Human Rights resolutions 1986/36 and 1987/22; reports by Mr. Danilo Türk,
Special Rapporteur of the Sub-Commission (E/CN.4/Sub.2/1990/19, paras. 108-120;
E/CN.4/Sub.2/1991/17, paras. 137-139); see also Sub-Commission resolution 1991/26.
See, for example, article 25 (1) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, article 5 (e) (iii) of
the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination,
article 14 (2) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women,
article 27 (3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, article 10 of the Declaration on Social
Progress and Development, section III (8) of the Vancouver Declaration on Human Settlements,
1976 (Report of Habitat: United Nations Conference on Human Settlements (United Nations
publication, Sales No. E.76.IV.7 and corrigendum, chap. I), article 8 (1) of the Declaration on the
Right to Development and the ILO Recommendation Concerning Workers’ Housing, 1961 (No.
115)).

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