Bam earthquake shows need for safer global housing standards, UN expert says

8 January 2004

Iran's recent tragic earthquake, which left up to 32,000 dead and 70,000 homeless, must drive all members of the international community to develop safe shelter conditions across the globe, according to a UN human rights expert.

"Compliance with sound housing standards achieved progressively throughout the world can ensure that the loss of life, human suffering and homelessness resulting from natural disasters are minimized in the future," Miloon Kothari, the Special Rapporteur on adequate housing of the UN Commission on Human Rights, said on Wednesday.

Lauding the courage shown by the survivors of the 26 December earthquake, he noted that part of the International Covenant of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights defines "habitability" as a necessary element of the right to adequate housing.

"I would like to stress that standards dictated by 'habitability,' including durability of homes to withstand earthquake and other disasters, should guide the reconstruction efforts in Bam," Mr. Kothari said.