UN official: evicting homeless could violate international human rights

by Walter Olson on February 18, 2012

The U.S. in 2010 signed onto the newish international human right to clean water and sanitation, but I wonder how many of those involved in the ratification expected it to lead to consequences like these [Sacramento Press]:

An appointee to the United Nations Human Rights Council has issued a four-page memo warning Sacramento mayor Kevin Johnson that local officials could be violating the human rights of the homeless people living within the city. In the January 23rd dated letter, Catarina De Albuquerque, the Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation for the United Nations human right council, says that the current policy of evicting the homeless from their “tent cities” and denying the homeless with safe access to clean water is, in effect, prohibited discrimination based on their economic and social status.

{ 1 trackback }

DYSPEPSIA GENERATION » Blog Archive » Un Official: Evicting Homeless Could Violate International Human Rights
02.21.12 at 10:38 pm


1 Richard Nieporent 02.18.12 at 10:20 am

Once again, the UN beclowns itself. The current members of the UN Human Rights Council include such bulwarks of human rights as China, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Cuba.

2 Robert 02.18.12 at 10:58 am

There’s little you can do to make Sacramento any worse. And I am not a fan of the U.N. having seen first-hand their ineffective “peacekeeping” forces.

That being said, how many of us would feel it would be wrong for a tent city in, say, Haiti or Mumbai to be cleared out, when there are very poor people who have no permanent place to go? And what makes the United States any different?

Of course, the “homeless” in the United States are different from the homeless in Haiti; In many cities, like San Francisco, they are a dangerous nuisance, and not sincere folks who are down on their luck. But how can we distinguish?

3 doug 02.18.12 at 4:19 pm

we can distinguish when the homeless are offered a chance to live somewhere else and and work to better themselves and society and they chose not to.

4 Hugo S. Cunningham 02.18.12 at 4:47 pm

The distinction should be made by an accountable government advised by an informed public, not by distant bureaucrats or judiciocrats with nothing to lose from a wrong choice between forbearance for the downtrodden and a liveable society.

5 Calvin A 02.18.12 at 9:37 pm

From: Random U.S. Mayor
To whom it may concern at the U.N.

Subject: Go ____________ yourself

Another reason to stop funding the UN.

6 Bill H 02.18.12 at 11:22 pm

I’m not positive I understand- did we sign a treaty, or were we merely a signatory to some convention the UN set up? If it was a treaty, I don’t remember the Senate ratifying it. In any other case, the UN can blow it out. The only international law we commit to as a nation are treaties, everything else is a leftist construct.

I’m also sort of curious how a body like the UN can individually single out one of our cities in a sovereign state for attention, and our UN Ambassador not read the General Assembly the Riot Act.

None of that is to say we can’t do better. But there are a number of places around the world that require ‘naming and shaming’ way far and away before Sacramento. The UN would do well to pay attention to, say, Riyadh. Or Pyongyang. Or any number of other garden spots that simply have little to no regard for human rights period.

7 Jack Wilson 02.20.12 at 9:52 am

If the UN is guaranteeing clean water, sanitation and housing, have we seen the check yet?

8 DC Matthews 02.27.12 at 12:28 pm

NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY …. how dangerous to have homeless people allowed to survive near where they can get food and maybe some ER and other limited medical care.
Separating what is good for helping the disabled and unemployed from actions to protect you from the addicts and other deviants is hard from the ivory towers and takes effort most who have discarded people like yesterdays trash aren’t willing to make .
Imagine being homeless and disabled and trying to stay safe. As long as developers only build houses many can’t afford without subsidy, as long as people don’t make an effort to separate the needs of the unemployed. underemployed, disabled or runaways from the addicts and deviants there will be lots of this lots of places and landlords will
be unwilling to assist most becausue of the few. How about asking HUD to count homeless people with physical disability and long term illness. I ask how do you help develop programs for people you have made not exist on paper. How about asking people who have done substance rehab not to be in section8 but supportive housing for 2-5 years to ensure they maintain sobriety. I believe AA has a 50% 5 year success rate and its for those with resources. Places like Salvation Army have a 30% success rate and people with disabilities often can’t manage in programs supervised by the recently or not so recovered. Fixing the system that was broken long before it was broke could help get those who are just not able to be able to get off the street and then dealing with the very separate population of those with addictions could happen. The problem that the free legal and other supports are often better at protecting and assisting deviants than disabled and the legal supports on the right would rather not help at all, needs to change.

My free legal advocate did not help me for along time then got me into only “temp “inaccessible and for several years and she bothched much and then quit over a big err being exposed , now also again, not accessible is also affordable and due to a foreclosure to supplier side rental market and problems in the Housing Authority and HUD not willing to update FMRs to match reality adn HPRP funds being cut , this poverty level cripple who was said to be too disabled for Voc rehab but not to be left homeless by the state , may be out there again next month. But not being a lobbied regional center client with parental cash means I have no real access via the left and not being monied myself means the right wont help me or help do more than highlight the problems as they affect them. Many soldiers are coming home to commit suicide once they see that these broken system and a life of pain and misery is the future they fought for. Many disabled veterans are now joining many other single disabled adults in the road.

As long as NIMBY is the only response on the right and lobby and funding streams create the divide on the left, many will not only fall through the cracks , some of us will continue to be pushed.

…and then there are those like Jack who only view and rationalize the world through their personal wallet..

9 Robert 02.27.12 at 2:26 pm

I think the folks at Overlawyered shouldn’t allow people to make personal attacks, by name, directed at other posters.

Comments on this entry are closed.