Letter from Chaloka, June 2013 - Syrian Conflict; UN Report; Durable Solutions

Dear Friends and Supporters of the IDP Mandate,   

May was a busy month in the context of my work as UN Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons (IDPs). A particular highlight was participating in the spring session of the Human Rights Council, at which I presented my report highlighting the work of the IDP mandate from January 2012-February 2013, including my missions and working visits to Afghanistan, Côte d’Ivoire and Sudan. The thematic section of the report focuses of the particular challenges facing internally displaced women. The rights and wellbeing of internally displaced women represent a longstanding concern for the IDP mandate, but this is the first time the issue has received such focused attention in a UN report. The report was very well received by the Human Rights Council and I was delighted that many States spoke in favour of the professional work of the mandate. I am pleased to have had the opportunity to consult with a wide range of stakeholders in the preparation of this report, and look forward to working together to ensure the implementation of the recommendations it offers.

I also had the opportunity to present a statement to the Council on the highly troubling human rights situation in Syria, on behalf of the Coordinating Committee of the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Along with my fellow Special Rapporteurs, I am closely observing the situation in Syria, and am particularly concerned about the rapidly growing population of IDPs—according to OCHA’s most recent assessment, there are now at least 4.25 million people displaced within Syria. The May 2013 Joint Rapid Assessment of Northern Syria underscores that IDPs and those hosting them are at greatest risk of deprivation of their most basic needs and rights. At the request of the General Assembly, I am further investigating the concerns facing IDPs in Syria and ways in which responses to them may be strengthened. I look forward to reporting to the General Assembly on this matter later this summer.

As many of you may know, at the stocktaking meeting that I convened in Geneva in November in cooperation with the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, durable solutions for IDPs was identified as a priority area for collaborative work over the upcoming five years. In particular, participants at the stocktaking session stressed the importance of more effectively engaging development actors in meeting the challenge of supporting durable solutions, which also represent a critical element of peacebuilding processes. Accordingly, my next thematic report to the General Assembly, which I will present in September, will focus on durable solutions for IDPs, looking in particular at the development and peacebuilding dimensions of this issue. In preparation for this report, I have in cooperation with the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, been undertaking a series of meetings and consultations on these issues. These events include a series of meetings with colleagues in New York, and a roundtable at Brookings on displacement and development agendas with Mme Sadako Ogata. In addition, on 7 June I convened a consultation meeting with key actors in Geneva to discuss this issue; this followed on from the Global Protection Cluster seminar the day before on transitions, in which I was pleased to participate. All of these discussions are particularly timely in light of ongoing efforts to pilot the Secretary-General’s Framework on durable solutions. Having recently visited two of the pilot countries, Afghanistan and Côte d’Ivoire, I am particularly looking forward to engaging further in discussions on the piloting process, and the ways in which lessons from these piloting efforts may be applied to support the broader implementation of the framework.

In addition to these activities, in May I was glad to have the opportunity to join in a fascinating discussion at Ditchley Park outside Oxford on the protection of civilians, and to visit Washington, DC to participate in the meeting of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee, where I was pleased to be able to highlight the excellent work of the Joint IDP Profiling Service. I also enjoyed the opportunity to join in discussions of the intersection of displacement and broader migration flows with friends and colleagues at the Swiss embassy in Washington, and in a public event at the Brookings Institution.

This month I am heading on mission to Georgia, and look forward to reporting back to the many friends of my mandate on the ongoing challenges facing IDPs there. In the meantime, I would like to thank you for your continued interest and support.


Chaloka Beyani

United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
Co-Director, Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement