HUN-2000-3-007
a) Hungary / b) Constitutional Court / c)   / d) 08-11-2000 / e) 42/2000 / f)   / g) Magyar Közlöny (Official Gazette), 109/2000 / h) .
 
Keywords of the Systematic Thesaurus:
 
 
General Principles - Margin of appreciation.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to dignity.
Fundamental Rights - Civil and political rights - Right to life.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to housing.
Fundamental Rights - Economic, social and cultural rights - Right to social security.
 
Keywords of the alphabetical index:
 
Housing, right / Obligation, state / Subsistence, minimum, right / Shelter, obligation to provide.
 
Headnotes:
 
The constitutional right to social security stipulated in Article 70/E of the Constitution obliges the state to organise and operate a system of social security. This provision does not establish subjective rights, thus a fundamental constitutional right to housing cannot be derived from this guarantee.
 
The basic right to human life and dignity together with the right to social security only obliges the state to provide accommodation for the homeless if human life is in imminent danger.
 
Summary:
 
The parliamentary commissioner for civil rights and the ombudsman for national and ethnic minority rights submitted a petition to the Constitutional Court asking the Court to interpret Article 70/E of the Constitution on the right to social security and to decide whether the right to housing forms a part of the right to social security. According to Article 70/E.1 of the Constitution, citizens of the Republic of Hungary have the right to social security. In the case of old age, sickness, disability, being widowed or orphaned and in the case of unemployment through no fault of their own, they are entitled to assistance necessary for their subsistence. Article 70/E.2 of the Constitution requires the Republic to implement the right to assistance through the social security system and the system of social institutions.
 
The Constitutional Court's jurisprudence has made it clear that the legislature has a relatively wide discretion in determining the methods and degrees by which it enforces constitutionally mandated state goals and social rights. A violation of the Constitution may arise only in borderline cases when the enforcement of a state goal or a protected institution or right are clearly rendered impossible by either interference by the State or, more frequently, by its omission. Above that minimal requirement, however, there are no constitutional criteria - except for the violation of another fundamental right - to determine whether legislation providing for a state goal or a social right is constitutional or not. In its Decision 43/1995 (Bulletin 1995/2 [HUN-1995-2-004]) the Constitutional Court pointed out that the State meets its obligation specified in Article 70/E of the Constitution if it organises and operates a system of social insurance and welfare benefits. Within this, the legislature can itself determine the means whereby it wishes to achieve the objectives of social policy. It is important, however, that social assistance as a whole may not be reduced to below a minimum level which may be required according to Article 70/E of the Constitution.
 
The Court held that the constitutional right to social security includes the duty of the state to guarantee minimum conditions of subsistence, therefore the state is obliged to provide accommodation for the homeless if human life is in imminent danger. The obligation to provide shelter, however, is not identical with ensuring the right to housing in a broader sense, because the state is only required to provide a roof if human life is directly threatened by lack of accommodation.
 
To realise the citizen's right to minimum subsistence, the state is obliged to operate and maintain a social security system. The protection of human life and dignity (Article 54 of the Constitution) is a fundamental principle to be upheld when creating this system of social provisions.
 
Supplementary information:
 
Two of the Justices attached concurring opinions to the decision in which they emphasised the state's duty to protect the life of human beings. Two other Justices attached dissenting opinions to the judgment. According to one of these Justices, when holding that the state is obliged to provide accommodation for the homeless, the Court acted outside of its competence concerning the interpretation of the Constitution given by the Act on the Constitutional Court. The other dissenting Justice argued that the right to housing did not emerge directly from the right to social security.
 
Languages:
 
Hungarian.