Housing is an international human right, but national courts often don’t comply

Do national governments and courts comply with the international human rights, such as the right to housing?

National governments and courts need to comply with international human rights law. Yet, we know that they often do not comply with international law.

For example, the right to housing, as laid down in international and European law, often demands more protection of the power- and propertyless than national laws prescribe.

As a result, national courts are at the centre of the complex interaction between national and international law. In times of growing national resistance towards international law, the questions whether, how, and why international law impacts on national law are among the most topical that legal scholars face.

Why does the EVICT project focus on evictions to understand the tension between international, European and national law?

Evictions provide an exceptional and timely opportunity to determine whether and why international rights, such as the right to housing, have an impact on national law.

First, the right to housing is established in a detailed, but under-theorised, legal framework consisting of international and European housing rights. The past and present crises led to a rapid development of this international framework.

Evictions provide a unique chance to examine the interaction between international human rights law and national law.

Second, on the national level, the crises led to an enormous number of evictions and a vast amount of national case law on those evictions (legal big data). In all of these national cases, the international right to housing could have played a role in judicial decision-making.

The combination of the developed but understudied international right to housing and the vast amount of national data offers a unique chance to examine the interaction between international human rights law and national law.

What theories are used in the EVICT project to study the dynamics between international and national law?

Various theories deployed in contemporary academic legal debates structure the data collection and analysis, acting as explanatory devices for the findings related to the impact, or the lack thereof, of the right to housing on national legal and judicial discourse.

These theories include work on the conceptual differences between public and private law and the horizontal effects of human rights. Other theories that guide the data collection and analysis discuss how the right to housing may impact the traditional property paradigm and vested interests.

Moreover, the EVICT project uses theories concerning the relationship between national sovereignty and international law, the separation of powers, national autonomy, judicial activism, judicial dialogue, and judicial resistance.

Explore the pillars of our research:

Publications on the right to housing and it’s impact on national law

  • Bruijn, L.M. (2021). The Alternative War on Drugs: Drug Evictions, Cannabis Regulation and the Legal Consequences of Adapting to the Limitations of Criminal Law in the Field of Drug Control (PhD Dissertation), Groningen: University of Groningen.
  • Van Tongeren, J.H.S. (2021). Priority housing as ex-offenders’ key to a home: assessing the potential of Dutch certificates of housing urgency using Lipsky’s theory on street-level bureaucrats. Journal of Offender Rehabilitation, 60(6), 395-421.
  • Vols, M., & Kusumawati, E. D. (2020). The International Right to Housing, Evictions and the Obligation to Provide Alternative Accommodation, Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and the Law, 21(2), 237-269.  https://brill.com/view/journals/aphu/21/2/article-p237_237.xml.
  • Van Tongeren, J.H.S. (2020). Housing Ex-Offenders in the Netherlands: Balancing Neighbourhood Safety and Human Rights. European Journal on Criminal Policy and Research.
  • Vols, M., Belloir, A.C., Hoffmann, M. & Zuidema, A.J. (2019). Common trends in eviction research: a systematic literature review, in. M. Vols & C.U. Schmid (Eds.), Houses, Homes and the Law, The Hague: Eleven Publishing, pp. 1-87.
  • Bruijn, L. M., & Vols, M. (2019). Eviction as a Tool for Crime Control: Fighting Drug-Related Crime in the Netherlands and the United States. In N. M. Davidson, & G. Tewari (Eds.), Global Perspectives in Urban Law: The Legal Power of Cities (1 ed.). (Juris Diversitas). Routledge.
  • Vols, M., & Schmid, C. U. (2019). Houses, Homes and the Law. (Studies in Housing Law; Vol. 3). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Vols, M., & Belloir, A. (2019). Tackling Rogue Landlords and Substandard Housing: Local Authorities’ Legal Instruments and their Effectiveness. Journal of Property, Planning and Environmental Law, 11(1), 2-19. https://www.emerald.com/insight/content/doi/10.1108/JPPEL-08-2018-0025/full/htmlhttps://doi.org/10.1108/JPPEL-08-2018-0025
  • Vols, M. (2018), Evictions in the Netherlands, in P. Kenna, S. Nassarre-Aznar, P. Sparkes & C.U Schmid (Eds.), Loss of Homes and Evictions across Europe, Cheltenham: Edgar Elgar, pp. 214-238.
  • Vols, M., & de Boer, R. (2018). De Huisvestingswet 2014 en de aanpak van misstanden rondom kamerverhuur en –bewoning. De Gemeentestem, 2018(99), 516-526.
  • Vols, M., & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (2017). Common Threads in Housing Law Research: A Systematic and Thematic Analysis of the Field. In M. Vols, & J. Sidolio (Eds.), People and Buildings: Comparative Housing Law (pp. 1-23). (Studies in housing law; Vol. 2). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Vols, M., & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (2017). Contemporary Housing Law. In J. Sidoli, M. Vols, & M. Kiehl (Eds.), Regulating the City: Contemporary Urban Housing Law (pp. 1-10). (Studies in housing law; Vol. 1). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Vols, M., & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (Eds.) (2017). People and Buildings: Comparative Housing Law. (Studies in Housing Law; Vol. 2). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Sidoli del Ceno, J., & Vols, M. (Eds.) (2017). Regulating the City: Contemporary Urban Housing Law. (Studies in Housing Law; Vol. 1). Eleven International Publishing.
  • Vols, M., & Minkjan, N. (2016). Huurachterstand, huisuitzetting en rechterlijke besluitvorming. Recht der Werkelijkheid, 37(2), 9-30. https://www.bjutijdschriften.nl/tijdschrift/rechtderwerkelijkheid/2016/2/RdW_1380-6424_2016_037_002_002https://doi.org/10.5553/RdW/138064242016037002002
  • Vols, M., & Sidoli del Ceno, J. (2016). Notices and the Need for Formality. Landlord and Tenant Review, 20(3), 109-111.