People leave their communities and their countries for many reasons. Sometimes they are forced to flee because of conflict or disasters; in some cases they cross an international border and are recognized as refugees. More often, they remain within the borders of their country and are known as internally displaced persons (IDPs). At the same time, even larger numbers of people leave their communities in search of economic opportunities or to join family members. Their positive contribution to the economic, social and cultural development of both sending and destination countries is today widely acknowledged. The international system distinguishes between those who are displaced and those who migrate voluntarily and between those who move within or across national borders. But in practice, the lines aren’t so clearly drawn, posing challenges to governments and human rights advocates.
On May 7, the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement analyzed the interconnections between displacement and migration with reflections of U.S. and Swiss policy by Anne Richard, assistant secretary of the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration at the U.S. Department of State and Ambassador Claude Wild, head of Human Security Division at the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs. Chaloka Beyani, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs and co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, offered comments based on his observations in the field. Senior Fellow Elizabeth Ferris, co-director of the Brookings-LSE Project on Internal Displacement, moderated the discussion.