n Law, Democracy & Development - The right to adequate housing in the African regional human rights system : convergence or divergence between the African Commission and South African approaches

Special issue 1
  • ISSN : 1028-1053
  • E-ISSN: 2077-4907



The right to adequate housing holds a central place within the international human rights system. It is an important basic human right, "of central importance for the enjoyment of all economic, social and cultural rights". Also, the right is linked to other rights, such as, to non-discrimination, dignity, privacy, freedom of association, freedom of expression, social security, education, health, work, vote, and the right to an adequate standard of living, which are essential if the right to adequate housing is to be realised and maintained by all groups in society. The right to adequate housing therefore clearly expresses the principle of interdependency of rights, which "suggests that there is a mutually reinforcing dynamic between different categories of rights in the sense that the effective implementation of one category of rights can contribute to the effective implementation of other categories of rights and vice versa". Though Quane's exposition limits the dynamic to different categories of rights (that is, civil and political rights, on the one hand, and socio-economic rights, on the other), the concept should also be understood as suggesting a mutually reinforcing dynamic between various rights including those within one category (that is, there can be a mutually reinforcing dynamic between various civil and political rights or between various socio-economic rights). Scott defines interdependence in the sense of organic interdependence ("one right forms a part of another right and may therefore be incorporated into that latter right") and related interdependence ("the rights in question are mutually reinforcing or mutually dependent, but distinct"). It should be emphasised that the interdependence of human rights can be in relation to the actual content of rights and not just with respect to "mutual reinforcement and equal importance" of rights.

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