Please note that all PDF documents are marked as such and will open in a new browser window.
BigLogo.gif UN Member States on the Record
Improving the lives of IDPs
18 December 2008 / 11:34

[Dateline: New York | Author:  iSeek]

Conference web siteInternally displaced persons (IDPs) will be the focus of an event in New York on Thursday that hopes to raise awareness of the multiple causes of displacement, the scale of the problem, the plight of those displaced, and what needs to be done to better support them.

Internally displaced persons are people forced to flee their homes but who, unlike refugees, remain within their country's borders.

A high-level panel discussion on Ten Years of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and their national implementation will be held on Thursday, 18 December at 1:00 p.m. in Conference Room 2.

The event will be co-hosted by the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs John Holmes and the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin.

Francis Deng, former Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons and current Special Advisor for the Prevention of Genocide will give a keynote address. 

Other expected panel participants include:

H.E. Mr. Hoshyar Zebari (Minister of Foreign Affairs of Iraq)
Carlos Suarez (Mission of Colombia)
Bill Frelick (Human Rights Watch)

The event aims to raise the global profile of the plight of IDPs, specifically in the context of the need to incorporate IDP rights into national legislation. 

In 1998, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement (GPs) were presented to the Human Rights Commission as an effort to compile and restate existing international human rights and international humanitarian law provisions applicable to internally displaced persons. The GPs were developed by a team of international legal experts led by the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and with support of the Brookings Institution. 

In the ensuing decade, the GPs have been widely recognized as authoritative by a number of international and regional organizations. In addition, governments, UN agencies, regional organizations, and non-governmental organizations use the GPs as the basis for programs and advocacy related to IDPs.

Most importantly, despite the fact that the GPs were not drafted or formally approved by an intergovernmental process and thus are non-binding on the states as such, a growing number of governments and regional organizations are using them as the basis for laws and policies on internal displacement.

Civil society organizations and IDPs themselves have seen the Guiding Principles as a tool to enhance access to their rights. At the Millennium UN Summit of 2005, the Guiding Principles were unanimously recognized as an “important international framework for the protection of internally displaced persons.”

New campaign and film

IDP Camp in the DRC | Credit: IRINThe occasion will also mark the launch of a new global advocacy campaign on IDPs organized by the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) with the support of partners. 

The campaign aims to raise awareness of the multiple causes of displacement, the scale of the problem, the plight of those displaced, and what needs to be done to better support them.

Also shown at the event will be a new IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks) film on displacement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Links to the nine-minute film at various resolution levels are available online.

IRIN's principal role is to provide news and analysis about sub-Saharan Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia for the humanitarian community. IRIN is part of OCHA, but its services are editorially independent. Its reports do not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations and its agencies, nor its member states.