Tuesday 11 May 2021
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reliefweb - 27 days ago

World: Adapting the guiding principles to new realities

Country: World Source: Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre When the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement were presented to the United Nations in 1998, they were ground-breaking. They helped to put the spotlight on millions of internally displaced people (IDPs) and inspired governments to pass national IDP legislation. Now, 23 years down the line, realities have changed and call for more attention on preventing displacement and finding durable solutions. Are the Guiding Principles still fit for purpose? The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement identify the rights and guarantees relevant to the protection of the internally displaced in all phases of displacement . They were introduced to the Commission on Human Rights the predecessor of the Human Rights Council by the Representative of the Secretary-General on internal displacement at the time, Francis M. Deng, in 1998. Although not legally binding, they remain the only international framework on internal displacement to this day. PROTECTION STARTS WHEN DISPLACEMENT IS ALREADY INEVITABLE When international experts set out to prepare the Guiding Principles, the humanitarian crises in Khartoum in 1989, in the Kurdish region of Iraq in 1991 and later in Somalia, Bosnia, Rwanda and East-Timor were fresh in the minds of the international community. Consequently, the framework is not only heavily influenced by a humanitarian perspective but also by international humanitarian law (IHL). Section II on protection from displacement presumes an already existing crisis due to armed conflict, ethnic cleansing or disasters with development projects being the only exception to this logic and does not allude to how such crises might have been averted. This is particularly striking in the case of disasters. Although the Guiding Principle s IDP definition is visionary for a framework devised in the 1990s and explicitly includes natural or human-made disasters , the provisions that follow do not mention disaster prevention and risk reduction. PRINCIPLES END BEFORE DURABLE SOLUTIONS ARE IMPLEMENTED Section V refers to return and resettlement of IDPs, thereby mentioning two of three options that are today considered as durable solutions (the third being local integration). Principle 29 clearly states that IDPs shall not be discriminated against as a result of their having been displaced , have the right to participate fully and equally in public affairs and have equal access to public services . This too is in line with current definitions of when durable solutions have been achieved. However, the Guiding Principles do not explicitly mention local integration as a potential durable solution, even though this is sometimes the only possible option. The framework is also silent on what needs to be done to implement the above-mentioned durable solutions, and how a longer-term development approach might support this. With conflict-related displacement estimated to last up to two decades on average, tackling protracted displacement crises through durable solutions is now more urgent than ever. THE NEW REALITIES OF THE WORLD S INTERNALLY DISPLACED To adequately respond to the challenges faced by the 50.8 million IDPs around the globe, we must strive to better integrate prevention and durable solutions in our responses not only in the field but also at the normative level. Much of what is needed is already included in recent development and humanitarian frameworks. The question is how these recent advances can best be linked to the Guiding Principles to create a consolidated global roadmap on internal displacement. SECURITY, STABILITY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE When it comes to prevention efforts in the context of conflict and violence, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and especially Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 1, 2, 10 and 16 are useful blueprints. SDG 1 calls for an end to poverty and equal rights to economic resources for all. SDG 2 aims at ending hunger and ensuring equal access to land. SDG 10 aspires to reduce inequality within and between countries, for instance by promoting social, economic and political inclusion of all and by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices. Finally, SDG 16 strives for peaceful and inclusive societies, universal access to justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions. RISK REDUCTION AND THE ADVERSE EFFECTS OF CLIMATE CHANGE Preventing disaster displacement first and foremost means reducing the vulnerability and exposure of affected populations. The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction has made risk reduction for resilience one of its four priorities, suggesting useful steps that can help prevent displacement. These include proper design and construction of critical infrastructure, making risk assessments an integral part of urban planning, rural development planning and the identification of areas for human settlements, and the design and implementation of social safety-net mechanisms among other things. All these approaches will become even more pertinent in the future as climate change is expected to further increase the intensity and frequency of disasters. DURABLE SOLUTIONS TO END PROTRACTED DISPLACEMENT The already existing language on durable solutions in the Guiding Principles could be strengthened by including some of the criteria of the IASC framework on durable solutions such as: long-term safety, security and freedom of movement, access to basic services - including education and housing - access to livelihoods and employment and so on. To add a more explicit development perspective, additional inspiration could once again be drawn from the 2030 Agenda, notably by including key aspects of SDG 8 on economic growth and decent work, SDG 11 on safe, resilient and sustainable cities and SDG 13 on climate action. GUIDING PRINCIPLES FOR THE 21ST CENTURY The drafting of the Guiding Principles was for a large part done by international experts outside the traditional intergovernmental process. This was possible because the experts didn t create any new law but compiled existing provisions that had already been internationally agreed. Nonetheless, it was the Commission on Human Rights Resolution 1996/52 which gave the impetus to start the process by calling on the Representative of the Secretary-General to develop an appropriate framework ( ) for the protection of internally displaced persons . Drawing inspiration from this process, updated and consolidated Guiding Principles for the 21st century could again be based on existing frameworks as outlined above. As a first step, the forthcoming UN General Assembly s biennial resolution on IDPs could call for a review. This exercise should take the policy developments of the last 23 years into account and be based on humanitarian, development and peacebuilding perspectives. Inclusive, whole-of-society consultations, including experts, national governments and IDPs themselves, could then provide ideas on how to best adapt the framework to new realities, preserving its human rights and IHL core while supplementing it with stronger provisions on prevention and durable solutions. More than 20 years after their introduction to the UN, the Guiding Principles remain a ground-breaking document. If we want them to provide a strong and robust roadmap for the next decades, to guide new approaches and find lasting solutions, and to do so by taking into account the competing needs and interests of members states, we must make them fit for the 21st century. In light of the momentum created by the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, there has never been a better time to get to work.


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