Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement

History of the Project

The Project on Internal Displacement was established at the Brookings Institution in 1994 to support the mandate of the Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons (RSG) in order to increase its capacity to uphold the rights of millions of internally displaced persons around the world. The RSGs served as co-directors of the Project with Brookings staff during the period of their mandates. The second part of the Project name refers to the academic institution of the RSGs. More recently, in 2010, Dr. Chaloka Beyani was named by the United Nations Human Rights Council as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and like his predecessors, became co-director of the Project. Dr. Beyani is also a professor of law at the London School of Economics, which is reflected in the current styling of the Project name as the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement.

These mandate-holders and the Brookings Project on Internal Displacement have had a long involvement and record of achievement with issues of internal displacement, with the over-arching goal of ensuring the full protection of the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs). Since the creation of the position of the Representative - the Representative of the Secretary-General and the Special Rapporteur - with support from the Project, have studied internal displacement worldwide, raised international awareness of the issue, developed and promoted a legal framework for addressing the needs of the internally displaced, strengthened regional and institutional arrangements, provided support for civil society organizations, and produced policy-oriented research which has influenced government policies and the responses of international and regional organizations to address internal displacement.

As RSG Francis Deng explained in a report by Refugee Policy Group and the United Nations (UN) Department of Humanitarian Affairs in 1992, the Project on Internal Displacement was “developed at the request of the UN Secretary-General in recognition of the magnitude of the crisis of internal displacement worldwide and the need for developing an appropriate international response” and “aims at developing a comprehensive global strategy for providing more effective protection of and assistance to the estimated 30 million internally displaced persons around the world.”

Roberta Cohen, an expert on internal displacement and a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State, joined RSG Francis Deng at Brookings as a visiting fellow in September 1994, co-founding the Project on Internal Displacement with him and co-directing the project from 1996 to 2006. She served as Senior Adviser to the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons from 1994 to 2010 and as Senior Fellow at Brookings from 2001 to 2007. She is currently a Non-Resident Senior Fellow in Foreign Policy at Brookings.

Brookings Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris co-directed the Project with Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons Walter Kälin from 2006 to 2010 and currently co-directs the Project with Kälin’s successor, Chaloka Beyani.

Reports and press releases relating to the Representatives of the United Nations Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons and the Special Rapporteur are available here.