The right to housing in Flanders-Belgium: international human rights law and concepts as stepping stones to more effectiveness

Date: 18 November 2016

Venue: Universtiteit Antwerpen, Stadscampus - Kapel Grauwzusters, Lange Sint-Annastraat 7 - 2000 Antwerpen (route: UAntwerpen, Stadscampus)

Time: 5:00 PM

PhD candidate: Nico Moons

Principal investigator: Bernard Hubeau en Wouter Vandenhole

Short description: PhD defense Nico Moons - Faculteit Rechten


There is no discussion on the importance of adequate housing for everyday life. Our home, a personal and broad concept, is the central operating base of our existence. It allows us to enjoy other (human) rights to their full potential. This has translated itself into the widespread recognition of the right to adequate housing, which is also incorporated in article 23 of the Belgian Constitution. Despite this recognition de iure, shortcomings with regard to the different housing elements (accessibility/availability, affordability, security of tenure, quality) are still very much a reality in Flanders and Belgium, especially on the (private) rental market. Through a sociological point of view, the research unveils several of the factors that (might) have an influence on the effectiveness of this fundamental right.

While the research addresses the pros and cons of certain specific legislative and policy measures along the line, the main objective has been to describe and develop a selection of pathways that might not only lead to a more effective right to housing (in a formal sense), but actually strive towards a more effective realisation of that right (in practice). To do so, the research takes inspiration from international and European human rights law. It builds on human or more specifically socio-economic rights concepts that have thus far been insufficiently elaborated on with regard to their application on the domestic level. As such, the research discusses the added value and potential of human dignity, the overarching right of article 23 of the Constitution, the usefulness of the traditional obligations typology and the prohibition of retrogressive measures (standstill). It also analyses the potential role of European (human rights) jurisprudence as an influencing factor on national housing policies. The research concludes by offering a proposal that aims to incentivize the adoption of measures that are directed towards attaining the full realisation of the right to housing.