CERA has a long history of using international human rights law and mechanisms to support its domestic advocacy. CERA’s founder was one of the first NGO representatives to appear before the United Nations (UN) Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR). Since then CERA has appeared before the CESCR, the Human Rights Committee and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women. CERA has also actively engaged the Commission on Human Rights (as it was) and the new Human Rights Council. For years, CERA was a leading actor influencing international standard setting on human rights issues related to housing and homelessness and women’s equality rights.
CERA has worked in the following areas:
Universal Periodic Review of Canada | Human Rights Council | UN Advisory Group on Forced Evictions | Women’s Economic and Social Equality | UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing | Treaty Monitoring Bodies | Indigenous Peoples and the Right to Housing
UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW OF CANADA
In early 2009, CERA in collaboration with the Social Rights Advocacy Centre and an ad hoc steering committee comprised of Amnesty International (Canada, English), the Native Women’s Association of Canada, Council of Canadians with Disabilities, and La ligue des droits et libertés, coordinated a national process leading up to Canada’s Universal Periodic Review at the United Nations Human Rights Council.
CERA helped to organize, facilitate, and Chair meetings with NGO representatives and federal government officials in 5 cities across Canada (Ottawa, Toronto, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Halifax). These meetings culminated in a national report on the status of human rights across the country. Along with SRAC and Amnesty, CERA travelled to Geneva to meet with members of the UN Human Rights Council to apprise them of the human rights concerns in Canada, and CERA continues to play a leading role in the ongoing UPR process.
HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL
Panel Presentation: Gender Integration and the UPR
CERA’s former Executive Director appeared before the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) on a panel regarding Gender Integration and the Universal Periodic Review Process.
UN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION: RESOLUTION ON WOMEN’S HOUSING AND PROPERTY RIGHTS
CERA was actively involved in ensuring the adoption of a resolution on women’s equal rights to land, property, inheritance and housing by the then United Nations Commission on Human Rights. The resolution was adopted in consecutive years: 2000, 2001, 2003, 2004, and 2005.
ADVISORY GROUP ON FORCED EVICTIONS
Fact Finding Mission to New Orleans, USA
CERA’s former Executive Director, Leilani Farha, was a member of an Advisory Group on Forced Evictions (AGFE) to UN-HABITAT at the United Nations. In July 2009 Leilani led an international fact-finding mission to New Orleans to investigate the experiences and incidents of forced eviction as a result of the Katrina hurricane and its aftermath. The mission focused on the impact of post Katrina policies on public housing tenants, most of whom are African American. The mission included a town hall meeting attended by more than 100 residents of New Orleans, many of whom gave testimonies regarding their experiences of eviction as a result of Katrina and post-Katrina policies. After completing the mission in New Orleans, the team went to Washington D.C. where meetings with high level officials were arranged. The fact finding mission as a whole generated much media attention, and has had some positive outcomes for residents of New Orleans.
The Witness Hub, Blog on mission to New Orleans (July/August 2009)
WWNO News Reports (Radio), UN Panel Reviewing New Orleans Housing Problems (July 2009)
WOMEN’S ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL EQUALITY RIGHTS
Counter-Terrorism: Expert Group Meeting
The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights organized an Expert Group Meeting on the impact of terrorism and counter-terrorism measures on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights, and the legal obligations of States to ensure continued enjoyment of these rights when enforcing these measures. CERA’s Executive Director, Leilani Farha, was invited to participate as an expert in the meeting. She presented on the impact of counter-terrorism measures on women, focusing on a single case study of Monia Mazigh, “the wife of Maher Arar”.
ESCR-Net – International Network on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
CERA is an active member of ESCR-Net. As one of its founders, CERA is committed to working collaboratively with organizations in different regions of the world to advance the economic, social and cultural rights of the most disadvantaged. CERA was an active participant in the most recent general meeting of ESCR-Net in December 2008 in Nairobi, Kenya. CERA’s Executive Director authored the background paper on women’s ESC rights and participated in the keynote panel and other discussions on women’s equality rights.
The Montréal Principles
The Montréal Principles are the first international legal interpretation of the meaning and application of economic and social rights for women. In the absence of such standards, CERA spearheaded an initiative that brought together leading human rights advocates who worked collaboratively to draft the Principles. The Principles are particularly noteworthy for their adoption of a substantive understanding of equality. They have been widely used and recognized as an important and influential contribution in the field of women’s social equality.
Montréal Principles in English/ Version française
UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights: General Comment No. 16
The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) relied extensively on the Montréal Principles in drafting their General Comment on Article 3 – equality between women adn men – of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). CERA worked closely with the Committee in the drafting of this General Comment. CERA’s Executive Director, Leilani Farha, appeared before the CESCR on its Day of General Discussion on Article 3 of the ICESCR.
Article 3 of the ICESCR and the Right to Adequate Housing – Submission for the Day of General Discussion
UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON ADEQUATE HOUSING
At the invitation of the Government of Canada the Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing conducted a two week mission to Canada in October 2007. The visit focused on four areas: homelessness; women and their right to adequate housing; Aboriginal populations; adequate housing and the possible impact of the 2010 Olympic Games on the right to adequate housing in Vancouver. CERA organized and hosted a half day meeting between the Special Rapporteur and national human rights and housing organizations in Ottawa as well as meetings in Toronto with women’s housing advocates.
Consultation on Women and the Right to Adequate Housing in North America
The UN Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing attended regional consultations across the world focused on women’s housing experiences. In late 2005 the North American consultation was held in Washington D.C. CERA’s Women’s Program, organized a Canadian Delegation of seven women from across the country to testify about their experiences of housing rights violations.
TREATY MONITORING BODIES
CERA has a long history of participating in the Treaty Monitoring Body review process of Canada. CERA has made written and oral submissions before a number of these bodies and has worked collaboratively with organizations from across Canada to ensure these Committees are provided with information regarding Canada’s compliance with its international human rights obligations.
CERA Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) (2006)
Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) (1999)
INDIGENOUS PEOPLE AND THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING
CERA collaborated with UN-HABITAT to develop a preliminary assessment of whether, and to what extent, Indigenous peoples enjoy the right to adequate housing in different regions of the world. The publication includes seven case studies on the status of housing for Indigenous peoples – in practice and in law – and reviews policies and programmes aimed at addressing their disadvantage. It also includes a comprehensive set of recommendations on improving the housing and living conditions of Indigenous peoples, and calls for further attention to be given to this critical human rights concern. Click here to link to the report.
CERA, in partnership with Celeste McKay (Native Women’s Association of Canada), worked with UN-HABITAT to develop a policy guide for national and local governments on the implementation of the right to adequate housing for Indigenous peoples. Click here to link to the guide.