Ten Years of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

December 2008

This 40-page special issue of FMR reflects discussions at the international conference on the Ten Years of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – GP10 – held in Oslo on 16-17 October 2008.

The conference aimed to assess the accomplishments and shortcomings of the Guiding Principles since their launch in 1998. It also sought to generate increased political will to incorporate the GPs into national, regional and global frameworks and to encourage progress towards their practical implementation.

This special issue includes shortened versions of some of the conference presentations, plus a selection of other articles, most of which present case studies on the application of the Guiding Principles in different countries. It has been published in English, Arabic, French and Spanish, and has been produced with the support of NRC/IDMC, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement.

Contents

John Holmes

Internal displacement remains one of the most significant challenges facing the humanitarian community.

Roberta Cohen and Francis M Deng

The need for international standards to protect and assist internally displaced persons arose directly from the explosion of civil wars in the last decade of the 20th century that left tens of millions uprooted within the borders of their own countries.

Summary of outcomes of the GP 10 Conference: 16 - 17 October 2008, Oslo

Cordula Droege

Ten years ago the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) helped draft the Guiding Principles. How have the Principles contributed to improving protection for IDPs? What gaps remain?

Elizabeth Ferris

The Guiding Principles’ objectives were clear but, ten years on, how can we assess their impact?

Erin Mooney

At the GP10 conference, several speakers invoked the ‘responsibility to protect’ and recommended closely linking it to the Guiding Principles and with the fate and situation of the millions of IDPs. What might making this connection bring, conceptually and concretely, to the protection of IDPs?

Thailand Burma Border Consortium

While the Guiding Principles have galvanised awareness of, and assistance for, IDPs in Burma, they have been an ineffective tool for dealing with a predatory military junta.

Iulia Kharashvili, Ilya Kharashvili and Koba Subeliani

Georgia has made significant strides towards incorporating the Principles in policy and practice.

Brigitta Jaksa and Jeremy Smith

A continent-wide Convention to protect IDPs in Africa could soon be adopted by the African Union. If sufficiently robust and aligned closely with the Guiding Principles, it would send a powerful signal about Africa’s determination to address IDP issues.

Ruth Mukwana and Katinka Ridderbos

An often-overlooked aspect of northern Uganda’s protracted conflict is that the main driver of displacement was the Ugandan government’s decision to force civilians into ‘protected villages’. Peace may be in sight but more must be done to make a reality of Uganda’s mould-breaking national IDP policy.

Rhodri C Williams

The emergence of a right to post-displacement property restitution represents a significant development in human rights law in the ten years since the Guiding Principles were submitted. While Guiding Principle 29 has contributed to the development of this right, significant obstacles remain to its consistent application in displacement settings.

Megan Bradley

Restoring property to displaced Afghans is a formidable challenge. Given the prevalence of landlessness, overlapping claims and inequitable property distribution, focusing solely on restoring land to its ‘original owners’ is unlikely to meet the needs of IDPs, returnees and their neighbours.

Jeremy Grace and Jeff Fischer

Guiding Principle 22 affirms IDPs’ “right to vote and to participate in governmental and public affairs, including the right to have access to the means necessary to exercise this right.” Despite the clarity of this language, there is no set of universally accepted policies and practices protecting IDP voting rights.

Shiva K Dhungana

While Nepal’s new Maoist-led government drags its heels in implementing the country’s national policy on IDPs, the needs of those displaced by conflict continue to go unmet.

Sara McHattie

Oxfam GB’s response to the devastation and displacement caused by Typhoon Durian included advocacy with Philippine state, NGO, community and private sector actors to raise awareness of Principle 27 – obliging providers of humanitarian assistance to ‘give due regard to the protection needs and human rights’ of IDPs.

Laura Perez

In the Central African Republic (CAR), where most displaced people are unaware of their rights, the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) is seeking to promote wider awareness of, and respect for, the Guiding Principles.

Khassim Diagne and Hannah Entwisle

UNHCR has worked to protect and assist IDPs since the mid 1970s. It has progressively established large-scale IDP operations and today works with governments and other humanitarian actors in 28 countries to protect nearly 14 million IDPs.

Kim Mancini Beck

The earliest post-launch training activities around the Principles aimed mainly to raise awareness and generate acceptance from government, NGO, UN and international actors. In recent years, training has have moved beyond awareness raising to applying the Principles and setting global standards.

Walter Kälin

Although it is hard to take an objective view on an enterprise in which you have been closely involved, it is fair to say that over the last ten years the Guiding Principles have demonstrated their utility and impact but also their limitations.

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