First-ever UN resolution on homelessness
On 19th February, the gavel fell on the 58th session of the UN Commission for Social Development, which agreed the text of the historical first United Nations resolution on homelessness. A serious violation of human dignity, homelessness has become a global problem. It is affecting people of all ages from all walks of life, in both developed and developing countries.
Globally, 1.6 billion people worldwide live in inadequate housing conditions, with about 15 million forcefully evicted every year, according to UN-Habitat, which has noted an alarming rise in homelessness in the last 10 years. Young people are the age group with the highest risk of becoming homeless.
The UN Commission’s resolution recognizes that people are often pushed into homelessness by a range of diverse social and economic drivers.
“It could happen to anyone. It’s not always drugs, alcohol. It’s not always something external. Life happens. And life can happen to a whole lot of us. It did during the great financial crisis, and it could very well happen again”, said Chris Gardner, who had described his experience of homelessness in his bestselling book, “The Pursuit of Happyness”.
“We, as a great human society, we are diminished, we lose the gift of their creativity, the gift of their curiosity, the gift of their potential when it is marooned by all downstream consequences of homelessness”, said Mary McAleese, Former President of Ireland.
“I will never forget my first experience with homelessness. I, unfortunately, was born into a family plagued by a chain of events which included domestic violence”, added Chris Gardner. “My one regret about being here today is that the two most important people in the world to me couldn’t be here today‐‐‐I’m referring to my granddaughter and my goddaughter. One of them says that she wants to become the President of the United States and the other one says that she wants to become an astronaut and go to the moon. And you know what I say to both of them every day? Let’s go!!! THAT’S THE POWER of ONE!”
In its resolution of the UN Commission for Social Development calls for a response by all sectors within Governments and societies. The Commission recommended the resolution for adoption by the UN Economic and Social Council later this year.
The Commission also celebrated the 25th anniversary of the World Summit for Social Development and its Copenhagen Declaration. Stakeholders and experts from all over the world expressed strong support for the work of the Commission, noting that the outcome of the Copenhagen Summit remains relevant today and continues to guide social development in their countries.
For more information: Commission for Social Development, 58th session.