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The African Union (AU) adopted the world’s first binding Convention on Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Africa (Kampala Convention) on October 23, 2009. However, further work is needed to secure the necessary 15 ratifications for the convention to enter into force. The Convention is based on a broad definition of IDPs, including those displaced by conflict, human rights violations, natural disasters and development projects. One of the key architects of the AU Convention, Professor Chaloka Beyani, now UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, led a forum on June 17, 2011 in Kampala, Uganda to discuss the Convention.
The forum took place immediately after a two-day regional workshop on natural disasters and human rights, attended by representatives of governments, civil society and UN agencies. The regional workshop and the forum were jointly organized by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement. Taking advantage of the presence of these workshop participants, the forum was also open to a broader cross-section of stakeholders.
The objectives of the one-day forum were to:
Provide a platform to promote the speedy signature, ratification and domestication of the AU Convention for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa;
Raise awareness about the Convention: why it is needed, what it says, and what ratification entails;
Provide an opportunity to respond to questions about the Convention;
Give further understanding of displacement resulting from natural disasters and development projects;
Encourage representatives of governments, civil society, UN agencies and NGOs to come together to reflect on the Convention and to consider ways of encouraging governments to ratify the Convention.
In addition to representatives from OCHA, the forum was facilitated by members of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement including Chaloka Beyani (UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Co-Director of the Brookings-LSE IDP project), Elizabeth Ferris (Co-Director of the Brookings-LSE IDP project) and Daniel Petz (Senior Research Assistant on Natural Disasters, Brookings-LSE IDP Project).