Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement

Letter from Chaloka, July 2013 - Georgia Visit; Syrian Conflict; Durable Solutions

Dear Friends and Supporters of the IDP Mandate,   

Warm greetings from London! I hope that this finds you well and that at least some of you are enjoying summer holidays.

Last month I traveled to Georgia where I was pleased to meet with many government officials, including the President, the Chairman of the Parliament and of the Supreme Court and many ministers. I also met with internally displaced persons (IDPs), civil society organizations and representatives of international organizations in the country. While solutions for IDPs continue to be elusive, I was encouraged by the fact that the government has taken many positive steps to improve the situation of IDPs, including proposed revision of legislation on IDPs, to which I suggested the realignment of the 2007 strategy on IDPs with the proposed law. In addition, a new registration exercise is being introduced for all IDPs and here I suggested that it include an assessment of vulnerabilities and needs. I was also encouraged by new policies being formulated by the government to tackle vulnerability in areas such as health, agriculture, land, employment and education, and I suggested that these policies should also particularly include IDPs. In the course of my mission, the Constitutional Court passed a decision that all IDPs are entitled to protection as IDPs.

I called for the implementation of an inclusive integrated approach for all IDPs in the country – including those displaced in 1992-93, 2008 and by natural disasters. Such an integrated approach would lead to a comprehensive system of protection and assistance to all IDPs in the country.

Also in June, I participated in the annual meeting of Special Procedures, this year held in Vienna. I was elected chair of the Coordinating Committee of Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. The meeting was held in Vienna to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action on Human Rights (VDP+20). I addressed the VDP+20 Conference organised by the Government of Austria and also participated in the Working Group on mainstreaming in which I advocated the inclusion of IDPs in the context of the post-2015 Development agenda.

I have also spent considerable time this summer preparing reports to the UN General Assembly. As requested by the General Assembly, I will submit my report on internal displacement in Syria next month. The same report will also be presented to the Human Rights Council in September. Although it wasn’t possible for me to travel to Syria to talk with IDPs firsthand, I am grateful to many colleagues in international organizations for sharing information to enable me to put together a comprehensive report on the displacement crisis. The crisis and humanitarian emergency in Syria shows no signs of abatement and I worry about its impact on Syria’s population, neighbouring countries and indeed for many other regions which may be deprived of needed resources.

On a more optimistic note, in September I will present my annual report to the General Assembly with a particular focus on durable solutions and the engagement of development actors. Displacement needs to be seen as a development challenge – and not just a humanitarian one. As I reported last month, this paper has been developed in a consultative process, beginning with a roundtable in Washington DC under the leadership of Sadako Ogata and followed by intensive meetings with development actors in New York and a roundtable in Geneva last month. We have worked hard to develop a comprehensive set of recommendations and I truly hope that the time is ripe to move beyond the humanitarian-development ‘gap.’ There are encouraging signs on many levels that progress is being made in this regard, including by the UN Secretary-General, UNDP, the World Bank and the Peacebuilding Support Unit.

In other initiatives, the mandate continues to support the development of an IDP policy in Somalia and implementation of the African Union Convention on Internal Displacement, including through the Friends of Kampala group.

I am particularly pleased that the UNHCR’s High-Level Dialogue this December will focus on internally displaced persons. As discussed at last year’s stocktaking meeting on internal displacement, there is a need to reinvigorate the international response to IDPs and this dialogue offers a useful way of doing so.


Chaloka Beyani

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