UN slams unsafe cladding as “potential violations of the right to life”


The UN Human Rights Committee has called on the UK Government to do more to remediate unsafe cladding, describing the circumstances that led to the Grenfell fire as “potential violations of the right to life and human dignity”

The UK must make progress on the Grenfell investigation and remediation of unsafe cladding on high-rise buildings, according to the UN Human Rights Committee.

Concluding observations on the eighth periodic report of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland assesses and responds to progress made by the UK Government on human rights legislation.

Whilst the Committee praised the adoption of the Building Safety Act 2022 and ongoing remediation works such as those supported by the Cladding Safety Scheme, concerns were raised about the speed of the works.

Seven years after Grenfell, over half of identified buildings still have unsafe cladding

The response was critical of the lack of progress made on the Grenfell investigation, stating that the Committee “regrets that the final report of the public inquiry remains unpublished and is concerned that while progress has been made to remove and replace combustible cladding materials on residential buildings over 18 meters high, reports indicate that remediation work on a substantial number of buildings between 11 and 18 meters has not yet started.”

According to the latest figures from the DLUHC on building safety remediation, of the 4,329 known residential buildings 11 metres and over in height with unsafe cladding:

  • 976 buildings (23%) have completed remediation, including those awaiting building control sign off
  • 992 building (23%) have started remediation
  • 2,361 buildings (55%) have not started remediation

The Committee advocated that the UK government should “strengthen its efforts to ensure the removal of all combustible cladding material from buildings where there might be a risk to life, and to provide additional protective measures to meet the needs of people in the most vulnerable situations, in relation to evacuation policies and housing allocation.”

The Grenfell fire presents “potential violations of the right to life and human dignity”

The Committee identified significant concern regarding potential breaches of the Government’s “obligations to protect the right to life, having allegedly failed to take appropriate measures prior to the fire in 2017 to mitigate the risk to life arising from the combustible cladding material.”

Recommendations include “promptly conduct[ing] effective investigations” into the “potential violations of the right to life and human dignity of the victims of the Grenfell Towers fire” and ensuring legal remedies were available to those affected, including “where appropriate, compensation and rehabilitation.”

At the time of writing, DLUHC has not responded to a request for comment.

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