Laws on internal displacement

For the purpose of this database, a law is defined as the system of rules issued by a government that regulates and prescribes the rights and obligations of the members of a community, formally recognised as binding and enforced by the relevant authority.

Total number of laws (26)

Breakdown by regions

Africa (2) Americas (6) Asia (2) Europe (16) Middle East (0) Oceania (0)
Kenya Colombia (2) Kyrgyzstan Azerbaijan (3)
Niger Mexico (2) Tajikistan Bosnia and Herzegovina (7)
Peru (2) Croatia
Georgia (2)
Russian Federation (2)


Laws applicable to situation of internal displacement are crucial for an effective response to displacement, since current laws (1) may pose unintended obstacles to guarantee the exercise of IDPs’ rights and (2) may not provide a sufficient basis for the full enjoyment of these rights. Therefore, laws or adjustments to laws are very often necessary as they allow both the identification and the amendment of the provisions that are incompatible with the guarantee of IDPs’ rights as well as the regulation of the response to internal displacement.

Laws are often developed through regulations, adopted by Ministries or agencies responsible to determine an issue unspecified in the law. These regulations may be necessary to address quickly specific and most urgent aspects of the displacement crisis. Nonetheless, laws are necessary as they have the power to amend previous legislative provisions and to formally bind governmental actions.

For more information, please refer to: Protecting Internally Displaced Persons (2008: p.27-28)

Criteria of identification

Content: Specifically on IDPs

In this database, laws refer to all instruments that include issues related to internal displacement (e.g. including internal displacement, IDPs, or related terms such as resettlement) that have the force of law according to the legal system of the country concerned.

+ For example, the “Law 387 on Internal Displacement” adopted in Colombia (1997) is classified as a law;

While the “Law on Personal Identification Number” adopted in Bosnia and Herzegovina (2001) is not classified as a law but, instead, as an other relevant instrument, since it relates with IDPs but concerns all BiH citizens.

Nature: Force of law

More specifically, the laws included in this database are instruments:

  • That produce rights and duties to the entire community concerned
  • That are legally binding
  • And that are issued by the competent jurisdiction

In the separation of powers model, the competent jurisdiction is usually represented by the country’s legislative body, namely the Parliament, the National Assembly or the Congress, amongst others.  Exceptionally, the rules issued by the executive, for example the Heads of State or Ministries, can also have the force of law (e.g. some decrees).  However, in this database, will be considered as laws only the instruments on internal displacement adopted by a legislative body.

+ For example, the “Prevention, Protection and Assistance to IDPs and Affected Communities Act, 2012 (No.56)” adopted by the Parliament of Kenya in 2012 is considered a law in this database;

While the “National Internally Displaced Persons Return, Resettlement and Reintegration Strategic Plan for Lango and Teso Sub Regions”, developed by an inter-ministerial technical committee in Uganda and endorsed by the executive in 2005, is not considered as a law but as a policy in this database.

Laws can be both adopted at national and sub-national levels

+ For example, Mexico has two laws addressing specifically internal displacement adopted at the (sub-national) state level, which are the “Law for the Prevention of and Response to Internal Displacement in the State of Chiapas”(2012) and the “Law for the Prevention of and Response to Internal Displacement in the State of Guerrero” (2014).”

Countries with laws