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U.S. Joins Consensus on HRC Resolution on Housing in Disaster Settings
Explanation of Position by the United States of America
March 22, 2012

Resolution:  Adequate Housing as a Component of the Right to an Adequate Standard of Living in the Context of Disaster Settings

UN Human Rights Council – 19th Session


The United States is pleased to join consensus on this resolution that addresses housing in the context of disaster settings.

We welcome the focus on adequate housing in the context of disasters, and note that this is a challenge that affects all countries, including the United States.  As Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Shaun Donovan said in May 2011 in New Orleans, “the storm may have been a natural disaster — but these disasters were very much man-made, depriving countless families of housing choices that… the law recognizes are the right of every American.”

The United States has also responded to shelter needs generated by crises and disasters worldwide for nearly 50 years.  During this period, millions of people around the world have received shelter from the U.S. Government as part of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance programs.  Increasingly, these programs have included initiatives to reduce disaster risk,

reaffirm housing and land tenure rights, and accelerate the transition to recovery and reconstruction.

We join consensus on this resolution with the express understanding that it does not imply that States must become party to or implement obligations under human rights instruments that they are not party to.  We interpret this resolution’s reaffirmation of previous documents as applicable to the extent countries affirmed those documents in the first place.  We consider the resolution’s phrase “the right to adequate housing” to be synonymous with the longer phrase in its title, and with similar language in Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the spirit of our shared policy objective, to ensure that adequate housing is available to all of our people, we are pleased to join consensus on this resolution today.