Rights to Healthy Life, Food & Housing

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The right to life is at the basis of any Human Rights, and its protection and guarantee must be at the top of the priorities […]. The right to life implies the right to dignity, a healthy nutrition and dwelling with access to clean water and effective sanitation.
In contrast, unsustainable practices among which the lack of food sovereignty of communities worldwide, landgrabbing, land or real estate speculation, the unequal distribution of resources, uncontrolled greenhouse emissions leading to climate change, are causes of dramatic violations of  such human rights. […] With the present global financial and social crisis, there has been a notable increase in the number of people who don’t have their right to life guaranteed, who suffer hunger,  evictions, lack of housing, energy poverty or who live in unhealthy conditions.
We call for the guarantee of access for every individual to adequate healthcare, nutritious food and a healthy habitat and dwelling ; and for the  collective and community conditions such as food sovereignty, sustainable social and productive systems, biodiversity and human-shaped urbanism that allows the full development of these basic rights.

 Declaration of the IVS movement on the situation of Human Rights and Peace, 2015

Since the very first international workcamp was organised, in 1920 image_71_ch_sci_1924_someo_033_catastrophe-after the First World War- at the border between France and Germany, by the founder of SCI (Service Civil International) as a Peace initiative consisting in re-building houses together by German and French victims of the war, the element of the right to housing has determined core activities of International Voluntary Service, as working with communities or families in difficulties to conditionate their houses so that their right to a life with dignity is guaranteed.


Networks like IBO or Compagnons Batisseurs (no longer a network but still existing CB old  first campsin France and CB in Belgium) have gathered national organisations specialised in this field. Renovation work through workcamps or long term voluntary service is also a methodology by which people in difficult social situation strengthen their access to communities and institutions, and is a step to their re-empowerment as citizens.


On the other hand, the promotion of the right to food, to sustainable lifestyles, of food sovereignty

subir al sur_trabajo comedor barrio belgrano (35)
Building a community canteen in Belgrano, Argentina (Photo courtesy of Subir al Sur)

approaches is also one of the focus of hundreds of International Voluntary Service projects, which support communities, associations, eco-farms, environmental organisations, and initiatives against climate change worldwide. Also, international iniciatives such as Create a Climate for Peace by the SCI, the Sustainability Campaign by the Alliance or the World Tanabata Action are among the prioritary actions of the networks.


Right to Food and Housing within the Raising Peace Campaign

The Raising Peace Campaign aims at strengthening the capacity of the movement for local and global actions to promote such rights, by training activists and volunteers on the topic, by increasing networking within and with relevant stakeholders, and working together to advocate in communities and institutions.

    Photo courtesy of Friendship Club Nepal

Communication regarding the rights to food and housing, awareness raising actions and the Peace Action Week in Barcelona (September 5th to 13th), to train activists, raise awareness and advocate on these topics — will be the main actions on 2015.

It is also a priority to develop partnerships with relevant actors in the topic, locally and internationally, and to be able to advocate with local, national, international and global

Photo courtesy of Subir al Sur
Photo courtesy of Subir al Sur

institutions for the guarantee of the rights to a healthy life, food and housing. A chapter on this thematic will be published in the “Report on Human Rights, civil society(…) and IVS” to be presented on october 2015 in Paris (contribute!).





The Peace Week on the Rights to Food and Housing  , Barcelona 4th to 14th September 2015

The Peace week will be an event that will gather IVS activists, involved in the topics of the event, from all over Europe, and the programme will mix training on Human Rights

"stop evictions" by PAH
“stop evictions” by PAH

for activists, with a focus on the main thematics of food and housing, with awareness raising activities, volunteering and advocacy actions. We will cooperate with partners and stakeholders as the PAH (antievictions movement in Spain), Can Masdeu (a historic squat space that promotes

House and gardens of Can Masedeu. (Taken from CM website)
House and gardens of Can Masedeu. (Taken from CM website)

sustainable lifestyles with the local community in the neigbourhood of 9Barris), Observatori DESC, and the municipality of Barcelona. The Peace Week is open to applications until July 25th, and will be hosted by SCI Catalonia. You want to apply?

Find more information on the Peace Week here




Right to Food and Housing on a Global Scope


Looking at international institutions that defend the right to food, of course the UN 178741-A_HRC_25_57_ENGagency, FAO is a refference, and their specific page on the Right to Food is can be visited here. It is however interesting to look at the work of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, appointed by the Human Rights council, from whom the Annual Report and the Statement “The transformative power of the right to food” can be read.



If we look at organised civil society, we could consider original_logo via campesina edit mhpVia Campesina the refference network for groups who defend, work and fight for the right to food, in forms of food sovereignty, sustainable food development, against landgrabbing, etc. Organisations like the MST (Movimento dos Sem Terra) or Grain could be a highlight among the hundreds of grassroots movements all over the world that defend the right to food.




When looking for institutional refferences on the Right to Housing, it is worth to check the UN site on such right, where many interesting documents can be found; we recommend the Fact sheet on the Right to Adequate Housing as an introduction, and the compilation of UN legislation on the right to housing. Then, the UN Rapporteur for the Right to Housing, appointed by the Human Rights council would be a key figure for public international defense of this universal right.

When trying to identify the key actors in civil society for the guarantee of the Right to logo_habitat international logoHousing, the Habitat International Coalition is the network of refference, which gathers hundreds of grassroots organisations worldwide.



Other basic REFERENCE DOCUMENTS related to the subject

Created and adopted by the IVS movement

The Declaration by the IVS networks on human rights: It includes a specific chapter on this thematic. See it here.

The White Paper on International Voluntary Service: Defines the long term strategies of IVS both on Human Righs and Peace and on Sustainability and Environment download it here.

For the classics and universal:

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The basic charter of human rights, download it here.



WANT TO CONTRIBUTE? Participate in the Peace Weeks, use and participate with the Declaration or in the Report, or contact us.


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