Background of the project
In 2015 with the support of the European Commission – Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) funding, the Global Protection Cluster (GPC)’s Task Team on Law and Policy conducted a mapping exercise to capture up-to-date information on countries with IDP laws and policies or in the process of developing such laws and policies or other instruments for the prevention of, response to and solutions for internal displacement. This joint effort led to the launch of a global database on laws and policies on internal displacement in 2016, which was available on the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) website. In 2018, the database was updated and migrated to the GPC website. UNHCR received assistance for the review, compilation and analysis of the database from a consultant (Ms. Ileana Nicolau).
The methodology for updating the database in 2018 began with identifying and defining criteria for selection and analysis (as illustrated in the “definitions” section below), based on the “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement” and the recommendations given in resources manuals (for more details, please refer to the section “Guidance and tools”). An in-depth desk review was then undertaken to gather as comprehensively as possible all the laws and policies on IDPs, as well as, non-exhaustively, the other relevant instruments.
The sources used for this data collection were:
- The Database on IDP Laws and Policies, IDMC;
- The Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement;
- the ICRC National Implementation Database;
- The European Country of Origin Information Network Database;
- Refworld (with the use of the filters: “IDPs”, “decrees” and “national legislation”);
- The PDD Mapping of national/regional Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR) strategies database;
- The Peace Accords Matrix, University of Notre Dame);
- The website of national institutions in charge of internal displacement.
The collection of documents were then cross-checked and organized. In addition, further research was conducted in order to capture ongoing normative developments, including through questionnaires sent to UNHCR field offices and other partners in the countries concerned to revise and update information.
The order of the definitions follows the order of the columns in the database (excel document).
- Type of instrument: The type of instrument refers to the category of document gathered in this database as described below.
- Law: 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.
- Policy: For the purpose of this database, a policy is defined as a guideline that outlines the main goals of a government (or part of it) as well as the methods and the actions to achieve them.
- Ongoing normative development: For the purpose of this database, the normative development refers to any initiative (the development of a law or a policy) taken by a government to specifically prevent, protect and assist the internally displaced persons as well as to define durable solutions to internal displacement.
- Other relevant instrument: For the purpose of this database, the other relevant instrument refers to any other instrument (law or policy) adopted by a state that relates with the guarantee of internally displaced persons’ rights, but that does not provide a general framework and/or specifically address internal displacement. It was decided to gather non-exhaustively in this category the documents that refer explicitly to one of the following terms: IDP, displace-ment/d, return-ees, resettlement and relocation.
- Government level: The government level refers to the level of government (authority) which took the decision to adopt the specific instrument. Since the system of government differs from one country to another, it was decided to have only two levels of government: the national level and the sub-national level.
- Date: The date refers to the year and the month of adoption of the specific policy or law by the government. When the month of adoption is unknown or unclear, the date is indicated as follows: year.00.
- Title: The title refers to the title of the instrument as indicated in the document. When relevant, additional information, such as the number of the specific document, is indicated in parenthesis.
- Guiding Principles: The mention Guiding Principles indicates if there is (“yes” or “no”) a reference to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (1998) in the law or policy analysed. In some cases, there is no specific reference to the Guiding Principles in the document, but it uses the Guiding Principles’ definition of internally displaced persons, which is indicated by “no (but definition)”.
Formulation of the issue
- Definition: For the purpose of this database, the definition refers to the existence (“yes” or “no”) of a definition of internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the law or policy analysed. The definition is important because it allows the identification of the target population of the document. Exceptionally, it can refer to the definition of a broader category of persons (e.g. “victims”) to which pertain explicitly the IDPs, and where the causes of displacement and any other relevant definitional information is stated, or where there is an explicit and specific reference to the definition of IDPs provided in another instrument. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Introduction – Scope and purpose. 2.
- Cause: The cause refers to the reasons for forced and involuntary displacement of persons within the national borders, as a direct consequence or in order to avoid its effects. For the purpose of this database, it refers to the causes recognised in the definition of internally displaced persons if there is one, or identified elsewhere in the law or policy. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Introduction – Scope and purpose. 2
- Conflict/violence: When the cause identified and recognised in the law or policy relates to a situation of violence, generally associated with the use of armed force. It includes armed conflict, situation of generalised violence and human rights violations, amongst others.
- Natural disasters: When the cause identified and recognised in the law of policy relates to hazardous sudden or slow-onset event creating severe human, economic or material damage, from mainly natural origins. It includes floods, earthquakes and droughts, amongst others.
- Human-made disasters/development projects: When the cause identified and recognised in the law of policy relates to a hazardous sudden or planned event creating severe human, economic or material damage, resulting mainly from human processes. It includes environmental degradation, technological hazards and large-scale development projects, amongst others.
- Phase: The phase refers to the phase of the displacement process targeted and addressed in the law or policy analysed. The phase is important because it specifies the attention to the needs of internally displaced persons provided in the document. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Introduction – Scope and purpose. 1; Principles 5-30
- Prevention: Prevention refers to any provision in the law or policy analysed, adopted by a government in order to prevent and avoid forced displacement on its territory and, when absolutely necessary, to minimize the unavoidable displacement and mitigate its harmful effects. It refers to preventive actions to displacement, including the protection against arbitrary displacement. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Section II. Principles relating to protection from displacement (Principles 5-9).
- Protection and Assistance: Protection and Assistance refers to any provision in the law or policy analysed, adopted by a government in order to protect and assist or to facilitate the protection of and assistance by third actors, to the persons once they have been displaced. It includes the assistance that allows for a meaningful exercise of rights such as the access to adequate food, water, housing, and essential medical services, amongst others. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Section III. Principles relating to protection during displacement (Principles 10-23) and Section IV. Principles relating to humanitarian assistance (Principles 24-27).
- Durable Solutions: Durable solutions refers to any provision in the law or policy analysed, adopted by a government in order to guarantee a process and/or the conditions by which internally displaced persons can access to a sustainable solution to their plight. It includes three potential durable solutions: return to the place of former residence, local integration at the site of displacement, or resettlement to a third location within the country. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Section V. Principles relating to return, resettlement and reintegration (Principles 28-30)
- Non-discrimination: The mention non-discrimination indicates if there is (“yes” or “no”) any reference in the law or policy analysed, of principles or measures explicitly against unjust or prejudicial treatment against internally displaced persons (IDPs) vis-à-vis non-displaced persons as well as within the displaced persons. Non-discrimination and equality before the law are essential in addressing internal displacement because, by being displaced, IDPs suffer from distinct vulnerabilities and their displacement may lead them to situations in which they are discriminated against compared to non-displaced citizens/residents. In addition, because IDPs are very diverse, it is also important to ensure that some of them do not receive worse treatment than others. In some documents, the “non-discrimination” principle or measure may concern only one of these previous aspects, in which case, it is indicated that non-discrimination is only “partially” addressed. Reference in the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Section I. General Principles: Principle 1.1, Principle 4.
- Institutional focal point: Institutional focal point refers to any provision included in the law or policy analysed, for the attribution of the mandate for internally displaced persons’ issues to a specific entity or group of entities at national or, when appropriate, sub-national level. It is indeed essential to identify such an institutional mechanism to guarantee the continuous attention to the problem of internal displacement and to facilitate the coordination within the government as well as with external partners. For the purpose of this database, this criteria refers to different kind of institutional arrangement, such as the attribution of the mandate to an existing government agency, the creation of a specific entity or the clear identification and attribution of mandates to several entities.
- Funding mechanism: Funding mechanism refers to any provision included in the document analysed, that identifies the adequate resources necessary to implement the law or the policy and/or where to find them. It is important, not only because the effective response to internal displacement requires financial resources, but because once the law or policy is adopted, it facilitates its direct implementation. For the purpose of this database, it includes all references to the devotion of national resources to address the needs and protect the rights of internally displaced persons, the creation of specific fund as well as specific arrangements and indications where to find financial support (both nationally and internationally).
- Data collection mechanism: Data collection mechanism refers to any provision included in the law or policy analysed, that identifies specific entities responsible and/or the standards for the sustainable collection of relevant information about internal displacement in the country. Information on internal displacement is crucial to design and monitor effective prevention and response to internal displacement, that meet the needs and guarantee the rights of internally displaced persons. For the purpose of this database, it includes all references to information management system, registration, and system of record-keeping, amongst others.
Guidance and Tools
For any additional information, you can refer to the Global Protection Cluster’s page on “Law and Policy on Internal Displacement Essential Guidance and Tools”