The Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement successfully convened the Sixth Annual Course on the Law of Internal Displacement from 7-12 June 2010 at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law (IIHL) in Sanremo, Italy. The course was organized by the Project and IIHL in partnership with the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (RSG) and the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and in cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).
The five-day course was designed for government officials and civil society representatives from countries around the world that are affected by internal displacement and who work directly on protecting and assisting the displaced. In total, 17 national participants attended the 2010 course, representing Afghanistan, Armenia, Kenya, Kenya, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Serbia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Turkey, Uganda, Yemen, and Zimbabwe. Representatives of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) and Organization of American States (OAS) also participated.
Faculty members included experts in the field of internal displacement and international human rights and humanitarian law including the RSG as well as staff of the Brookings-Bern Project, the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC), International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), OHCHR and UNHCR.
The main aims of the course were to increase understanding of the international norms underpinning the protection of internally displaced persons (IDPs); promote the use and implementation of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; encourage governments to establish or improve legislation and policies on the protection of IDPs; and facilitate the exchange of experiences between participants regarding implementation and monitoring mechanisms.
The course included lectures, plenary discussions and presentations by participants, practical exercises, and an interactive role play. The lectures covered legal aspects of protection from, during, and after displacement. Practical exercises were carried out in small groups and required participants to work with case files to identify IDPs, their human rights, and responsible agencies for protecting and assisting them. Another exercise focused specifically on resolving property and land disputes, particularly with regards to the challenges of customary legal systems.
The course culminated with a “national hearing” role play, in which participants adopted the role of members of the government, representatives of international organizations, or civil society, and negotiated a draft law on internal displacement.
By the end of the course, participants were able to identify the rights of IDPs as well as the corresponding obligations of governments and other actors; identify policy gaps and needs for an appropriate national response to situations of internal displacement; conceptualize and propose national mechanisms for both the implementation of protection strategies and monitoring; and draft a national action plan for legislation and policy implementation.
One of the key aspects of the course was the direct involvement of participants in lectures and exercises. Their presentations and discussions of national practices and responses to displacement contributed to the overall learning experience and the richness of the course.
Since 2005, the course has involved the participation of more than 100 national participants and representatives of international and regional organizations working to protect the human rights of internally displaced and to facilitate durable solutions to bring their displacement to an end. Many participants have subsequently been involved in the development and implementation of national laws and policies for IDP protection based on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.