The Future of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

Walter Kälin
Walter Kälin Former Brookings Expert

December 31, 2008


Although it is hard to take an objective view on an enterprise in which you have been closely involved, it is fair to say that over the last ten years the Guiding Principles have demonstrated their utility and impact but also their limitations.

In Burma, they have been used to raise awareness about displacement and mobilise humanitarian assistance but have offered little diplomatic or political leverage to influence the national authorities. During elections in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Kosovo, the Principles focused attention on IDPs’ political rights but across the world IDP political participation remains inconsistent. They have helped inspire the peace process in Nepal but the country still lacks an effective IDP strategy. They have informed the ongoing process of drafting the African Union Convention for the Prevention of Internal Displacement and the Protection of and Assistanct to Internally Displaced Persons in Africa but — assuming it is approved by the African Union at a special summit[1] — its effectiveness will depend on the degree of compliance and monitoring. The Principles were issued to Georgian civil servants designated to provide assistance to those displaced by the recent  conflict but the response of the government to Georgia’s latest displacement crisis has been criticised. They form the basis for Uganda’s National Policy for Internally Displaced Persons but there is still a very significant implementation gap.

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forced_migration_cover001.jpg  This article appears in a 40-page special issue of FMR that reflects discussions at the international conference on the Ten Years of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement – GP10 – held in Oslo on 16-17 October 2008. It will be available in English, Arabic, French and Spanish. The English edition is now online at