Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement— Annual Report 2007

April 8, 2008

Message from the Co-Directors

We are pleased to present this report on our 2007 activities and hope that this new format will serve as an awareness-raising tool about the continuing needs of internally displaced persons (IDPs). While the issue of IDPs is now high on the agenda of the international community, it is important to remember that there are still 25 million people who have been forced from their communities by conflict and many more who have been displaced by natural disasters and large-scale development projects. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that displacement is on the decline; rather, the increasing number of IDPs in countries as diverse as Iraq and Colombia makes it clear that there is still urgent need to promote the human rights of internally displaced persons. While we have followed the humanitarian reform process closely this year, there are still many IDPs who are falling through the gaps. For example, an expert seminar on protracted IDP situations, organized jointly with UNHCR in June, highlighted the need for improved mechanisms to respond to IDPs once the initial emergency phase has passed.

2007 was a year of intense activity for the Brookings-Bern Project with activities in many different areas, some of which are highlighted in the pages which follow. We are pleased with both our new initiatives—such as the work done on the relationship between internal displacement and peace—and with our continuing efforts to support governments to adopt laws and policies which uphold the human rights of IDPs. It has been encouraging to see the extent to which the Operational Guidelines for people affected by natural disasters and the Framework for Durable Solutions are being used by the international humanitarian community. Our support for National Human Rights Institutions and civil society groups continues to demonstrate the importance of reaching out to others who are working with IDPs on the ground.

As this report makes clear, the research expertise brought by the Brookings Institute and the Representative’s on-the-ground activities have enabled the project to have an impact far beyond its small staff. The RSG’s 2007 missions to the Central African Republic, Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka and working visits to Afghanistan, Armenia, and Côte d’Ivoire indicated that much more needs to be done before the human rights of IDPs are fully respected. The research conducted this past year by the Brookings Institution on diverse issues, including sectarian violence and displacement in Iraq, mechanisms for consulting with IDPs, and the relationship between migration and displacement served to enhance our understanding of displacement. But there is much that remains to be done—as discussed at a meeting convened in Cairo by the Project and Georgetown University’s Institute for the Study of International Migration in March 2007 on the future research agenda of internal displacement. Although we are proud of our work in 2007, we are acutely aware that much more is needed to respond to the world’s internally displaced persons.

Walter Kälin
Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons
Co-Director, The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement

Elizabeth Ferris
Senior Fellow, The Brookings Institution
Co-Director, The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement