Under its Economic and Social Rights Unit, OHCHR works with all stakeholders to monitor, promote and implement the right to adequate housing and an adequate standard of living, prevent forced eviction, and realize security of tenure. Through the Unit’s monitoring component, in cooperation with the OHCHR Civil Society and Fundamental Freedom Unit and Rule of Law units, the Unit intervenes in relation to threats to, harassment, and criminalization of communities and individuals claiming their rights to land and housing and other human rights defenders. The Unit’s activities take place in a context of ongoing and widespread historical land disputes, persistent land grabbing by powerful individuals or groups, economic land concessions (ELCs) for primarily agro-industrial purposes, mining and oil/gas extraction, infrastructure upgrades and industrial power generation (e.g. dams), and rapid high-end urban development.

The Economic and Social Rights Unit works with the Government, civil society organizations, private companies, communities, United Nations agencies and multilateral and bilateral development actors to strengthen the national legal framework protecting land and housing rights, and improve their effective and fair implementation. The Unit draws on an array of international standards which enshrine peoples’ rights to land and adequate housing, the duty of the Government to fulfil the rights included in the international human rights treaties that it has ratified, and the responsibility of business enterprises to prevent and redress human rights abuses.

Current areas of focus include:

  •     Preventing forced evictions and promoting the right to adequate housing
  •     Monitoring resettlement and relocation
  •     Analyzing current and emerging legislation for compliance with human rights norms governing land and housing rights
  •     Supporting registration of indigenous peoples’ land and application for collective land title
  •     Monitoring land grabbing and dispute resolution processes and facilitating dialogue
  •     Promoting responsible business practices and redress for human rights violations.

Summaries of the annual activities of the Economic and Social Rights Unit can be found in OHCHR Cambodia annual reports to the Human Rights Council.