Letter to the Editor: Internally Displaced

Roberta Cohen
Roberta Cohen Former Brookings Expert, Co-Chair Emeritus - Committee for Human Rights in North Korea

July 27, 2000

To the Editor:

United Nations officials are right to point out that protecting people forcibly displaced in their own countries will require more money (news article, July 24). But two problems even more critical will need to be addressed.

First, when a government is unable or unwilling to provide for its own population, it must turn to the international community for help. If it fails to do so, and large numbers are at risk, international involvement must become legitimate.

A second problem is United Nations turf wars that inhibit help. Because no organization wants any other to have a global mandate to protect the displaced, coordination has become the preferred option.

But for it to succeed (and it hasn’t to date), all the agencies will have to agree to be coordinated.