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Toolkit الأداوات في يدك

Toolkit الأداوات في يدك

Please note: this site is under construction. Fully bilingual English and Arabic coming soon.

يرجى الملاحظة أن هذا الموقع هو قيد الانشاء.  النسخة ا المحتوية على كلتا اللغتين آت قريبا

(Note: the information below is assembled from many published sources – further citations and links to be added shortly)

Human Rights Toolkit:

Framing Housing Rights, Rights of SlumDwellers, Rights of Informal Areas as Human Rights:

“To live in a place, and to have established one’s own personal habitat with peace, security and dignity, should be considered neither a luxury, a privilege nor purely the good fortune of those who can afford a decent home. Rather, the requisite imperative of housing for personal security, privacy, health, safety, protection from the elements and many other attributes of a shared humanity, has led the international community to recognize adequate housing as a basic and fundamental human right.”

What to do if you face eviction:

SEVEN GUARANTEES BEFORE EVICTION According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, to which Egypt is a state party, the Egyptian authorities cannot carry out evictions before appropriate procedural protections are in place, even if you live on state–owned land. This means that before eviction, the authorities must give you:
1. An opportunity for genuine consultation.
2. Adequate and reasonable notice in writing of the eviction order.
3. Full information about your right to appeal against the eviction order.
4. Information on the proposed evictions and the alternative purpose for which the land or housing is to be used.
5. Reasonable time to remove your possessions.
6. Legal remedies.
7. Legal aid if you need it to seek redress from the courts.

SEVEN GUARANTEES DURING EVICTION If the eviction does go ahead:
1. Government officials or their representatives must be present during the eviction.
2. Everyone involved in carrying out the eviction must be properly identified.
3. Your eviction must not take place in particularly bad weather or at night unless the affected people consent.
4. Your eviction must not leave you homeless or vulnerable to other human rights violations.
5. The demolition of your home should not happen before you are relocated in adequate alternative housing.
6. The demolition of your home should not be a precondition for relocation.
7. Excessive force should not be used against you during the eviction.

SEVEN CRITERIA FOR ALTERNATIVE HOUSING The state has a duty to ensure that no one is left homeless because of an eviction. Should you be unable to secure alternative housing for yourself, the authorities must provide you with compensation for your losses and adequate alternative housing whether you are a man or a woman head of household. According to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, adequate housing means a home where you have:
1. Legal security of tenure, with legal documentation and guarantees of protection against forced evictions, harassment and other threats. Among the various forms of tenure are rental (public and private) accommodation, co-operative housing, lease, owner- occupation, emergency housing and informal settlements.
2. Availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure, which are essential for health, security, comfort and nutrition. These include access to natural and common resources, safe drinking water, energy for cooking, heating and lighting, sanitation and washing facilities, means of food storage, refuse disposal, site drainage and emergency services.
3. Affordability of housing, so that the attainment and satisfaction of other basic needs are not threatened or compromised.
4. Habitability, in terms of provision of adequate space and protection from cold, damp, heat, rain, wind, or other threats to health, structural hazards and disease vectors.
5. Accessibility for disadvantaged groups, including older people and children, people living with physical and mental disabilities or illnesses, the terminally ill, people living with HIV/AIDS or persistent medical problems, victims of natural disasters and people living in disaster- prone areas.
6. Location that allows access to employment, health care services, school and other social facilities. Housing should not be build on polluted sites or near pollution sources.
7. Cultural adequacy. The way housing is constructed, the building materials used and the policies supporting these must appropriately enable the expression of cultural identity.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights:

About: The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is a declaration adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (10 December 1948 at Palais de Chaillot, Paris). The Declaration arose directly from the experience of the Second World War and represents the first global expression of rights to which all human beings are inherently entitled. It consists of 30 articles which have been elaborated in subsequent international treaties, regional human rights instruments, national constitutions and laws. The International Bill of Human Rights consists of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and its two Optional Protocols. In 1966 the General Assembly adopted the two detailed Covenants, which complete the International Bill of Human Rights; and in 1976, after the Covenants had been ratified by a sufficient number of individual nations, the Bill took on the force of international law

Pertinent Articles:

Article 17: (1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as well as in association with others. (2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his property.

Article 25 (1): “Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”

International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights:

About: The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from March 23, 1976. It commits its parties to respect the civil and political rights of individuals, including the right to life, freedom of religion, freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, electoral rights and rights to due process and a fair trial. As of December 2010, the Covenant had 72 signatories and 167 parties.
The ICCPR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR).
The ICCPR is monitored by the Human Rights Committee (a separate body to the Human Rights Council), which reviews regular reports of States parties on how the rights are being implemented. States must report initially one year after acceding to the Covenant and then whenever the Committee requests (usually every four years). The Committee meets in Geneva or New York and normally holds three sessions per year.

Egypt: Signature: 4 Aug 1967 Accession, Succession, Ratification: 14 Jan 1982

Pertinent Articles:

Article 1.2: All peoples may, for their own ends, freely dispose of their natural wealth and resources without prejudice to any obligations arising out of international economic co-operation, based upon the principle of mutual benefit, and international law. In no case may a people be deprived of its own means of subsistence.

Article 17: 1. No one shall be subjected to arbitrary or unlawful interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to unlawful attacks on his honour and reputation.2. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

(This needs further thought – how to approach this article as addressed to/about “peoples” and not individuals. Potentially could argue that the mass eviction of a community of informal area dwellers deprives their group of subsistence.) Subsistence meaning survival or livelihood.)
Framing eviction as a form of torture.

International Covenant on Economic And Cultural Rights:

About: The Inernational Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) is a multilateral treaty adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on December 16, 1966, and in force from January 3, 1976. It commits its parties to work toward the granting of economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) to individuals, including labour rights and the right to health, the right to education, and the right to an adequate standard of living. As of December, 2008, the Covenant had 160 parties.[1] A further six countries had signed, but not yet ratified the Covenant.
The ICESCR is part of the International Bill of Human Rights, along with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), including the latter’s first and second Optional Protocols.

The Covenant is monitored by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.

ECHRs article argues that forced eviction and demolition is a form of cruel, inhuman degrading treatment or punishment.
Egypt accepts the Covenant only to the extent it does not conflict with Islamic Sharia law.

Pertinent Articles:
Article 11(1): “The States parties to the present Covenant recognize the right of everyone to an adequate standard of living for himself [or herself] and his [or her] family, including adequate food, clothing and housing, and to the continuous improvement of living conditions. The States parties will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of this right, recognizing to this effect the essential importance of international co-operation based on free consent.”

General Comment #4:
In this General Comment, the Committee views that the right to housing should not be interpreted in a narrow or restrictive sense which equates with, for example, the shelter provided by merely having a roof over one’s head or views shelter exclusively as a commodity. Rather, it should be seen as the right to live somewhere in security, peace and dignity.
Significantly, General Comment No. 4 points out to the importance of the concept of adequacy in relation to the right to housing, since it serves to underline a number of factors which must be taken into account in determining whether particular forms of shelter can be considered to constitute “adequate housing” for the purposes of the Covenant. While adequacy is determined in part by social, economic, cultural, climatic, ecological and other factors, General Comment identifies seven aspects that form integral components of the right:
• legal security of tenure;
• availability of services, materials, facilities and infrastructure;
• affordability;
• habitability;
• accessibility;
• location; and
• cultural adequacy.

General Comment No. 4 is also instrumental in outlining the precise legal steps that Governments must take to comply with their housing rights obligations as stipulated under international law (see section II.C).

International human rights bodies have increasingly addressed the issue of liability for forced evictions. In 1991, the Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities12 under the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, adopted resolution 1991/12 which provides guidance in determining the legal responsibilities of those who evict. It stated that –
“forced evictions can be carried out, sanctioned, demanded, proposed, initiated or tolerated by a number of actors, including, but not limited to, occupation authorities, national governments, local governments, developers, planners, landlords, property speculators and bilateral and international financial institutions and aid agencies”.

The resolution also emphasized that the ultimate responsibility for preventing evictions rests with Governments.

General Comment #7:
In 1997, the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights adopted the General Comment No. 7 on the right to adequate housing (forced evictions). In this General Comment, the Committee defined the term ‘forced eviction’ and reaffirms that forced evictions are prima facie violations of the right to adequate housing. The Committee also viewed that any States should be strictly prohibited – in all cases – from intentionally making a person, family or community homeless following an eviction, whether forced or lawful. This General Comment also outlined a series of procedural steps that must be taken in any instance where eviction cannot be avoided.

There is precedent for ….
In the case Selçuk and Asker v. Turkey, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the destruction of the defendant’s home constitutes a form of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, in violation of article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which states that “no one shall be subjected to torture or to inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.1 This decision was upheld in two subsequent rulings of the Court: Bilgin v. Turkey and Dulas v. Tuerkey.

These elements are related to
1) the manner in which the homes are being destroyed and the evictions are being carried out;
2) the personal circumstances of the victims and
3) the situation in which the victims are being left after the demolitions/evictions took place.
Indian government is developing rights for slum dwellers

International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination:

About: The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) is a United Nations convention. A second-generation human rights instrument, the Convention commits its members to the elimination of racial discrimination and the promotion of understanding among all races. Controversially, the Convention also requires its parties to outlaw hate speech and criminalize membership in racist organizations.

The Convention also includes an individual complaints mechanism, effectively making it enforceable against its parties. This has led to the development of a limited jurisprudence on the interpretation and implementation of the Convention.
The convention was adopted and opened for signature by the United Nations General Assembly on December 21, 1965, and entered into force on January 4, 1969. As of February 2011, it has 85 signatories and 174 parties.
The Convention is monitored by the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).

Pertinent Articles:
Article 5(e) (iii) of the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination states: “In compliance with the fundamental obligations laid down in article 2 of this Convention, States Parties undertake to prohibit and eliminate racial discrimination in all of its forms and to guarantee the right of everyone, without distinction as to race, colour, or national or ethnic origin, to equality before the law, notably in the enjoyment of the following rights:…(e) in particular…(iii) the right to housing.”

Commission on Human Settlements:
Agenda 21: Agenda 21 explicitly recognized the importance of security of tenure. The Commission on Human Settlements also urged all States to cease practices, which resulted or could result in infringements of the human rights to adequate housing.14 This referred in particular to the practice of forced mass evictions and any form of racial or other discrimination in the housing sphere.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women:

About: The Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) is an international convention adopted in 1979 by the United Nations General Assembly. Described as an international bill of rights for women, it came into force on 3 September 1981. The United States is the only developed nation that has not ratified the CEDAW. Several countries have ratified the Convention subject to certain declarations, reservations and objections.

Convention oversight is the task of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, which is made up of 23 experts on women’s issues from different UN member states. The Committee meets twice a year to review reports on compliance with the Convention’s provisions that the signatory nations are required to submit every four years.

Pertinent Articles:
Article 14(2)(h) of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women states: “States Parties shall take all appropriate measures to eliminate discrimination against women in rural areas in order to ensure, on a basis of equality of men and women, that they participate in and benefit from rural development and, in particular, shall ensure to such women the right…(h) to enjoy adequate living conditions, particularly in relation to housing, sanitation, electricity and water supply, transport and communications.”

Convention on the Rights of the Child:

About: The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (commonly abbreviated as the CRC, CROC, or UNCRC) is a human rights treaty setting out the civil, political, economic, social, health and cultural rights of children. The Convention generally defines a child as any human being under the age of eighteen, unless an earlier age of majority is recognized by a country’s law.
Nations that ratify this convention are bound to it by international law. Compliance is monitored by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child which is composed of members from countries around the world. Once a year, the Committee submits a report to the Third Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which also hears a statement from the CRC Chair, and the Assembly adopts a Resolution on the Rights of the Child.
Governments of countries that have ratified the Convention are required to report to, and appear before, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child periodically to be examined on their progress with regards to the advancement of the implementation of the Convention and the status of child rights in their country. Their reports and the committee’s written views and concerns are available on the committee’s website.

Pertinent Articles:
Article 27(3) of the Convention on the Rights of the Child states: “States Parties in accordance with national conditions and within their means shall take appropriate measures to assist parents and others responsible for the child to implement this right and shall in the case of need provide material assistance and support programmes, particularly with regard to nutrition, clothing and housing.”

Habitat Agenda at the Second United Nations Conference on Human Settlements

UN Resolutions:

UN Docs. A/RES/1986/146 and A/RES/1987/146. 17. UN Docs. E/RES/1987/37 and E/RES/1987/62. 18. UN Docs. E/CN.4/RES/1986/36, E/CN.4/RES/1987/22, E/CN.4/RES/1988/24, E/CN.4/ RES/1993/77, E/CN.4/1995/RES/19, E/CN.4/RES/2000/9, E/CN.4/RES/2000/13, E/CN.4/ RES/2001/28, E/CN.4/RES/2001/34, E/CN.4/RES/2002/28 and E/CN.4/RES/2002/49.

Millennium Development Goals:

About: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that all 192 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve by the year 2015. They include eradicating extreme poverty, reducing child mortality rates, fighting disease epidemics such as AIDS, and developing a global partnership for development

Pertinent Targets:
Goal 7/Target 11: Ensure environmental sustainability: By 2020, to have achieved a significant improvement in the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers.


1. Egyptian Center of Housing Rights

Egyptian Center for Economic and Social Rights 1 Soq El Tawfiqiya Street, 4th Floor 11111, Cairo
Tel: 02 25783076 Email:

Egyptian Center for Housing Rights 33 Kasr El-Nile Street, 9th Floor Cairo Tel: 02 23922194 / 01 01284223 Email:

Egyptian Organization for Human Rights 8/10 Mathaf El Manial Street Manial El Roda Cairo
Tel: 02 23620467 / 02 23636811 Email: /

Hisham Mubarak Law Center 1 Soq El Tawfiqiya Street, 5th Floor 11111, Cairo Tel: 02 25758908 Email:

Amnesty International International Secretariat Peter Benenson House 1 Easton Street
London WC1X ODW United Kingdom Tel: +44 20 7413 5500 Fax: +44 20 7956 1157 Email: Website:

History of Housing Rights in Egypt:

History of Housing Rights Abuse in Egypt:

Violation of existing laws and judicial rulings: 
Some forced evictions and house demolitions are carried out in flagrant violation of existing laws and judicial rulings. Such practices demonstrate the contempt of central and local Executive Authorities for the court, to which peaceful and law-abiding citizens resort for protection against injustice.

The absence of prior notification:
 Many of the forced evictions and house demolitions are enforced without prior notification to the victims. As a consequence, many of them were taken by surprise and had no time to oppose the evictions through legal ways, to save their property or to find alternative housing.

Threats and use of force in order to compel the victims to sign false statements: 
In many cases, the citizens are forced in police stations after the evictions or demolitions to sign false statements stipulating that they received prior notification. If the y refuse to sign these false statements, they are subjected to beating, humiliation and threats to be framed for crimes they did not committed..

The lack of suitable alternatives or adequate compensation:
 House demolitions or forced evictions are being performed, in many cases, without providing suitable alternatives or compensation, even when legal guarantees so provide. As a consequence, the victims are being deprived of their livelihood and shelter.
 Even in the cases where the government concedes to compensate or provide alternative housing, this usually occurs many time after the demolition or eviction took place, engendering consequent suffering.
 Alternative housing is usually located far from work and lacking in services, rendering life in the new units unsustainable. In cases of monetary compensation, the government assesses the value without consulting the residents. Compensation is so trivial that it does not allow citizens to obtain alternative housing, even in shantytowns. The government terrorizes citizens through the police to accept the inadequate compensation or face further wrath of State power.

Use of force by State agents: 
Eviction is enforced using bulldozers and Central Security personnel armed with sticks, firearms and, in some cases, tear gas bombs, resulting in numerous violations of human dignity and safety of the person. These range between verbal abuse using foul-mouthed insults and degradation, beating, detention, the dispossession and destruction of property, withholding medical treatment to injured persons, the denial of any social support to citizens after demolitions or evictions.
 These forms of deprivation jeopardize the dignity and lives of citizens, including their children, when they are left to eek out a living in the street. 
As highlighted by these characteristics, the house demolitions and forced evictions carried out by the Egyptian Central Security personnel present similar elements as the one listed by the ECHR in its jurisprudence. Indeed, such policies leave the victims in serious destitution and deprive them from their livelihood, shelter and belongings, with no available recourses. Moreover, the way demolitions and evictions are being carried out, in many cases without prior notification and in front of the victims, using force, ill-treatment, humiliation, threats and without adequate precautions being taken to secure the victims’ safety also constitute additional factors of suffering. These different elements highlight the degree of suffering, both physical and psychological, brought by these policies. 
The following cases, only a few select examples of patterned and constant practice, demonstrate the extent of violations to which citizens are unduly subjected.

Right to the City:

The Right to the City is an idea and a slogan that was first proposed by Henri Lefebvre in his 1968 book Le Droit à la ville. Lefebvre summaries the ideas as a “demand…[for] a transformed and renewed access to urban life. David Harvey has recently defined The Right to the City as being about “far more than the individual liberty to access urban resources: it is a right to change ourselves by changing the city.” He has also stressed that: “It is, moreover, a common rather than an individual right since this transformation inevitably depends upon the exercise of a collective power to reshape the processes of urbanization.”

World Charter for the Right to the City

Proposal for a Charter for Women’s Right to the City

(Note: the information above is assembled from many published sources – further citations and links to be added shortly)

One Comment

Leave a Comment
  1. Woods / Sep 26 2011 7:09 pm

    It’s about time smooene wrote about this.

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