Internal Displacement

At the end of 2015, there were an estimated 40.8 million IDPs around the world driven from their homes by armed conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations. In the same year, 19.2 million persons throughout the world became internally displaced due to natural disasters.

The United Nations Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement define Internally displaced persons (IDPs) as “persons or group of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situation of generalized violence, violation of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed internationally recognized state border.” As citizens, they retain all of their rights and protection under both human rights and international humanitarian law.

Governments have the primary responsibility in providing protection and assistance to IDPs. Authorities in several countries have developed domestic normative standards on the protection of IDPs. The adoption of the African Union Convention for the Protection of and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons in 2009, the first binding regional instrument on internal displacement, marked an important milestone in the strengthening of normative standards for the protection regime at the domestic level. National governments have made positive strides in addressing their IDPs’ assistance and protection needs, but substantive challenges in terms of law and policy that require sustained attention remain. Key gaps include a lack of provisions on assistance for those hosting IDPs, and the adoption of definitions of an IDP and solutions frameworks that are limited in scope, which in turn undermine efforts to address the causes of displacement. Some laws and policies fail to include detailed provisions on implementation and monitoring or the institutional arrangements necessary for doing so.

In mid-2015, the global protection cluster (GPC) task team on law and policy, co-chaired by the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), started to collect information on national frameworks relevant to the phenomenon worldwide. The information gathered so far reveals that countries respond to internal displacement in a variety of ways. Some develop legislation or implement policies that respond to existing and specific situations. Others adopt comprehensive laws and policies that address all aspects. A considerable number of countries are also using the Guiding Principles or the African Union Convention on the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, commonly known as the Kampala Convention, as points of reference in drafting national laws and policies. For more information please click on the link below.


> Mapping of Laws and Policies on internal displacement