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Published by Enhelion, 2019-11-30 00:31:52

Module 11

Module 11


5.1 Introduction
Refugees are people who have crossed an international frontier and are at risk, or have been

victims, of persecution in their country of origin. Internally displaced persons (IDPs), on the
other hand, have not crossed an international frontier, but have also had to flee their homes.
These people often comprise of the most vulnerable group socially, economically,
psychologically and even politically. They have lost their homes, been severed from their
accustomed livelihood. In most cases they are also resented by the host Country and
considered a burden. They are at the mercy on the international community and their
neighbors for their rights and therefore, are unable to demand their rights when they are
deprived of them. However, Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons bring with them a lot
of skill sets and the drive to survive in adverse circumstances, which in most cases is an asset
to their new surroundings. Moreover, exposure to a new lifestyle enables them to contribute
towards the betterment of their society upon their return to the home Country1.

5.2 Refugee
5.2.1 Definitions:
The term Refugee has been defined under Artilce1A of the ‘United Nations Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees, 1951’ as: “A person who owing to a well-founded fear of being
persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or
political opinion is outside the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is
unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and
being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable
or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it”. The basic principle of the Convention was
‘non-refoulement’ which means that a refugee should not be forced to go back to his home
country if they fear that the same would endanger their lives or freedom. The Convention also

1‘Refuges and Internally Displaces Persons’, written by Judy El-Bushra and Kelly Fish,

laid down that the rights of the refugees must be equal to the rights of other foreigners residing in
that Country2.
However, it was observed that many persons who were seeking an asylum were person fleeing
armed conflicts and other violations of International Humanitarian Law. As per the definition
laid down under the 1951 Refugee Convention, every person fleeing an armed conflict did not
fall within the category of a Refugee because the same provided a limited list of grounds for
persecution. It was eventually recognized that majority of persons who were forced to leave their
state of nationality were fleeing the effects of hostilities accompanied with the destruction of
homes, food stocks and means of subsistence, which are all violations of International
Humanitarian Law but without the element of persecution. Subsequently, some regional refugee
instruments Organization of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Problems
of Refugees, 1969 and Cartagena Declaration on Refugees in Central America, 1984, expanded
that definition of Refugee to include persons fleeing from armed conflicts within its ambit3.

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Statute gradually extended the definition of
Refugee under its mandate in 2011. Accordingly, the term Refugee under the broader definition,
in addition to the individuals meeting the criteria laid down in the 1951 Convention, includes
persons who are:
“outside their country of origin or habitual residence and unable to return there owing to
serious and indiscriminate threats to life, physical integrity or freedom resulting from
generalized violence or events seriously disturbing public order.”4

5.2.2 General Introduction
Refugees are persons outside their countries of origin who are in need of international protection

because of a serious threat to their life, physical integrity or freedom in their country of origin

2 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Convention and Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees’,
3 International Committee on the Red Cross, ‘Humanitarian Law, Human Rights and Refugee Law’,
published on 23 April,2005, <>
4 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency ‘UNHCR Resettlement Handbook’, published in 2011,

as a result of persecution, armed conflict, violence or serious public disorder.5

The need for international protection arises because they are unable to avail themselves of the
protection of their own country against these threats.

International refugee law derives from a range of treaties (universal and regional), rules of
customary international law, general principles of law, and national laws and standards. The
1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees6 and its 1967 Protocol7 laid the foundation
upon which subsequent regional instruments have built, including the 1969 OAU Convention,8

5 See UN General Assembly,Note on International Protection, 7 September 1994, A/AC.96/830, UNHCR’s refugee-protection mandate, per Article 6A(ii) of its Statute,
originally covered ‘[a]ny person who ... owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race,
religion, nationality or political opinion, is outside the country of his nationality [or habitual residence, for those
without nationality] and is unable or, owing to such fear or for reasons other than personal convenience, is
unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country.’ For subsequent General Assembly resolutions
extending the High Commissioner’s competence, see eg GA res 3143 (XXVIII), 14 Dec 1973; GA res 1673
(XVI), 18 Dec 1961; GA res 2294 (XXII), 11 Dec 1967; ECOSOC res 2011(LXI), 2 Aug 1976, endorsed by GA
res 31/35 of 30 Nov 1976; GA res 36/125, 14 Dec 1981; GA res 44/150, 15 Dec 1988; GA res 48/118, 20 Dec

6 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (28 July 1951) 189 UNTS 137, (1951 Convention),

7 Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees (31 January 1967) 606 UNTS 267,

8 The 1969 OAU Convention refugee definition set out at Article I covers, in addition to those included in the 1951
Convention definition, ‘every person who, owing to external aggression, occupation, foreign domination or
events seriously disturbing public order in either part or the whole of his country of origin or nationality, is
compelled to leave his place of habitual residence in order to seek refuge in another place outside his country of
origin or nationality.’ Organisation of African Unity (OAU) Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of
Refugee Problems in Africa (10 September 1969) 1001 UNTS 45,

the 1984 Cartagena Declaration,9 the EU Qualification Directive10 and other relevant
instruments of the EU asylum acquis communautaire, and the 1966 Bangkok Principles.11
Collectively, this body of law, complemented by international human rights law, makes up the
international refugee protection regime under which UNHCR exercises its mandate

The main causes leading to refugees fleeing their countries are:

Ethnic Violence
Tribal Violence
Religious Violence

9 Conclusion III(3) of the Cartagena Declaration recommends a refugee definition that covers, in addition to those

included in the 1951 Convention definition, ‘persons who have fled their country because their lives, safety or
freedom have been threatened by generalized violence, foreign aggression, internal conflicts, massive violation of
human rights or other circumstances which have seriously disturbed public order.’ Cartagena Declaration on
Refugees, Colloquium on the International Protection of Refugees in Central America, Mexico and Panama, 22
November 1984,

10 Directive 2011/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council of 13 December 2011 on standards for the
qualification of third-country nationals or stateless persons as beneficiaries of international protection, for a
uniform status for refugees or for persons eligible for subsidiary protection, and for the content of the protection
granted (recast), 20 December 2011, OJ L 337.

11 Asian-African Legal Consultative Organization (AALCO), Bangkok Principles on the Status and Treatment of
Refugees, 31 December 1966 (final text adopted 24 June 2001).

12 UN General Assembly, Statute of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, 14

December 1950, A/RES/428(V), UNHCR, Note on the Mandate
of the High Commissioner for Refugees and his Office, October2013,

Around two-thirds of the refugees worldwide come from these five Countries:
1. Syria
2. Afghanistan
3. South Sudan
4. Myanmar
5. Somalia13

At present, the world is witnessing the highest level of displacement on record. It is estimated
that around 70.8 million people worldwide have been forced to flee their home by either conflict
or persecution at the end of 2018. Among them, nearly 30 million are refugees out of which over
half of whom are below the age of 18. Additionally, there are millions of people who are
stateless or who have been denied nationality, access to basic rights such as education,
healthcare, employment and basic freedom of movement14.

International refugee law can be termed as the most relevant International Human Rights
mechanisms because its protection is invoked by millions of people every year. Refugees on a
Global level are accorded protection specifically under the United Nations Convention Relating
to the Status of Refugees, 1951 also known as the Geneva Convention and under the 1967 UN
Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees15.

5.2.3 Historical Development of International Refugee Law
Refugees have been victims of blatant human rights violation. They are individuals or group of
people without the protection of a national State. Human rights and refugees are connected

13 USA for UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Refugee Facts- What is a Refugee’, 2018,
14 United Nations, ‘Global Issues-Refugees’, <>
15 European Parliamentary Research Service Blog, ‘Refugee Status Under International Law’, published
on October 27,2015, <>

because it is the evident violations of human rights that creates the flow of refugees and only
respect for human rights can make it possible for the refugees to return to their homes safely or
to have all their problems resolved. Further, the problem of refugees is international in character
because there are two or more States involved i.e. fleeing from one State to other. The problem
of refugees therefore, cannot be resolved without international cooperation. For the first time,
international action for refugees started in the 1920s. Dr. Fridtjof Nansen of Norway provided
help to the refugees all through the year 1920. This facilitated the creation of international
machinery engaged in the protection and assistance of refugees16. Therefore, on 27 June 1921,
the League of Nations established the Office of the High Commissioner of Russian Refugees17.
Subsequently, in 1930 the Assembly of the League of Nations abolished the High Commissioner
post and established the Nansen International Office for Refugees. Eventually, in 1933, the
problem of refugees reached an unprecedented scale because of Hitler’s succession to power and
after the World War II whereby many civilians were dislocated18.

5.2.4 International Instruments relating to problems of Refugees
1. United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (URRA)
The first International agency, which dealt with the problems of refugees and displaced
person after the beginning of the Second World War, was the United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration (URRA). It was established by an agreement of 44 nations
on November 9, 194319. Its main objective was relief, maintenance, rehabilitation and
repatriation of the United Nations national displaced as a result of war. However,
majority of these displaced people were unwilling to be repatriated because of adverse
conditions in their home country. Therefore, these people along with non-settled pre-war
and wartime refugee groups formed the heart of the refugee problem in Europe after the
end of Second World War. Around the beginning of 1946, there were approximately
1,675,000 persons who were considered as refugees. The activities carried out by URRA
during this time comprised of distributing relief supplies like food, clothing, shelter,

16 Dr. H.O. Agarwal, Human Rights, Central Law Publications,2010, p.142
17 Reworld, UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Refugee and Stateless Persons:Report of the Secretary
General, Published on 26 October 1949, <>
18 Ibid 9
19 United Nations Archives and Record Management, ‘World War II – United Nations Relief and
Rehabilitation Administration’, <>

medicines, along with other relief related services with the help of trained personnel.
Even after the war ,UNRR organized camps, food etc for millions displaced and refugees.
URRA was discontinued in 194720.
2. International Refugee Organization (IRO)
International Refugee Organization started its operations on July 1, 1947 and took over
the work carried out by the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration. It
was a temporary specialized agency of the United Nations and was terminated in January
1952. During its working it mainly assisted the refugees and displaced persons in
countries of Europe and Asia, who were not able to return to their countries of origin or
were not willing to return to their own country owing to political reasons. The activities
carried out by IRO included the upkeep and care of refugee camps, vocational training,
orientation for resettlement and even tracing services in order to find lost relatives. It also
undertook the responsibilities for the legal protection and settlement of refugees that were
earlier carried out by the Intergovernmental Committee on Refugees. After its
termination, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
succeeded it21.
3. United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR)
The office of the United Nations Commissioner for Refugees was created in the year
1950 in order to assist millions of Europeans who had fled their homes after the Second
World War. UNHCR was created for a period of three years, during which it was
expected to complete this work and then disband. However, with several extensions over
the years and support from all over the world, it continues to function even today,
marking an over 68 years of assistance and protection to the refugees all around the
world. UNHCR has extensively worked to resolve refugee problems all over the world
like the Hungarian Revolution in 1956, Refugee crises during the decolonization of
Africa in the 1960s, assistance to the uprooted people in Asia and Latin America. Even in
the 21st century UNHCR has played a prominent role in the major refugee crises in
Africa, Middle East and Asia. At present UNHCR has more than 16,703 personnel and its
work extends to a total of 134 Countries. The UNHCR marked its 65th Anniversary in

20 Ibid 9, p.143
21 Encyclopedia Britannica, ‘International Refugee Organization’ ,

2015 and during the span of its activities it has helped over 50 million refugees to
successfully restart their lives22.
4. Convention on the Status of Refugees
This is the most important international instrument relating to the problems of refugees.
The United Nations Conference of Plenipotentiary on the Status of Refugees and
Stateless Persons adopted it on 28 July 1951. The basis of its adoption was the fact that
both the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
have affirmed that all human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms without
any discrimination23. The Convention defined the term ‘refugee’ and outlined the rights
of the displaced and even laid down the legal obligations of the States to protect them.
The core principle of the Convention was Non-Refoulement which implied that a refugee
cannot be returned to a country where there are serious threats of life and freedom to
them, which is now considered as a rule of customary international law24. With the
passages of time, the Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees was enacted in 1967,
which broadened the scope of the Convention and the definition of the term refugee.
With time, in order to widen the scope of the Convention, a Protocol Relating to the
Status of Refugees, was enacted in 1967. This widened the definition of the term refugee.
Both these treaties defined the legal status of refugees along with defining the rights and
duties of refugees. Some of the core provisions of the 1951 Convention are:

Personal Status of Refugee
Article 12 of the Convention of 1951, provides for the personal status of refugees
according to which it shall be governed by the county of his domicile and where
the refugee has no country of domicile, then by the law of the country of his
residence. Such rights acquired by a refugee and his dependent, for instance rights
related to marriage shall be respected by the Contracting Parties25.

22 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Figures at a Glance’ , <
23 Ibid 9, p.145
24 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘The 1951 Refugee Convention’, <
25 United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Convention relating to the Status of
the Refugees’ , <>

Movable and Immovable Property
According to Article 13, contracting States should give the refugee the same
treatment as they would accord to aliens in the generally under the same
circumstances, with respect to movable, immovable property.

Civil Rights
The Convention provided that the contracting States must provide minimum
rights like right to work, right to education, social security, freedom of religion
without any discrimination of race, religion or country of origin.

Treatment of Refugees
Chapter IV of the Convention comprises of Articles 20 to 33. They have provided
for the welfare of the refugees, whereby, Refugees should be treated by their own
nationals, by the State Parties in many respects. Contracting States should not
impose taxes, duties etc on refugees that are not levied on their nationals under
similar circumstances. They should also accord the same treatment to the refugees
as their nationals in respect of elementary education, social security, labour
legislation, public relief etc.

Illegal Entry of Refugees
Under Article 31, Contracting States shall not impost ay penalties on the refugees
who have illegally entered into their territories without permission owing to threat
to their life or freedom. Such refugees are required to present themselves without
a delay to the authorities and establish a good cause for their illegal entry26. In
these cases the Contracting States shall also provide these refugees a reasonable
time and assistance so that they can obtain permission of entry into another

Expulsion of Refugees
Article 32 of the Convention provides that refugees who are lawfully in the
territory of the Contracting States cannot be expelled except on the grounds of

26 UNHCR, ‘Article 31 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees:Non-penalization,
Detention and Protection’, published in October 2001, <>

national security or public order. Decision of such an expulsion should be carried
out by following the due process of law. Reasonable time should be given to the
refugee to seek admission into another country.

General Obligations
Article 2 of the Convention lays down duties on every refugee with respect to the
country he finds himself in. Refugees are required to follow and obey the laws
and regulations and maintain public order.

Access to Courts
A refugee shall enjoy the same treatment as a National in matters related to access
to Courts, legal assistance, in the Contracting State of his habitual residence.
It is however, to be noted that the Convention does not provide a safe haven to terrorists. All
States, before grating refugee status must ensure that the asylum seekers did not plan, facilitate
or participated in any terrorist attacks. A few other International instruments that provide for
provisions related to the status of refugees are:

Universal Declaration of Human Rights;
Covenant on Civil and Political Rights;
Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time
of War
Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and
relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol 1)
International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
Convention Against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading
Treatment or Punishment
Convention on the Rights of the Child
Declaration on the Elimination of Violence against Women27

However, the Legal basis for the protection of refugees is provided for under the Status of the
Office of the UNHCR, the Refugee Convention of 1951 and its Protocol of 1967. Therefore,

27 University of Minnesota Human Rights Library, ‘Study Guide- The Rights of Refugees’, published in
2003, <>

UNHCR serves as a guardian of the Convention of 1951 and its 1967 Protocol. States are
required to cooperate with the UNHCR in order to ensure that the rights of the refugees are
respected and protected28.

5.2.5 Refugee Status Determination

Refugee Status Determination (RSD) is a legal and an administrative process by which either the
governments of the UNHCR determine whether a person who is seeking international protection
should be considered a refugee under the relevant international, regional or national law. RSD
many a times is considered as a crucial process in order to help the refugees to realize their rights
under the International Law29. Usually, it is the responsibility of the States to conduct RSD,
however, in certain cases when the State is not a party to the 1951 Refugee Convention and/or
does not have an asylum system that is fair and efficient, RSD is conducted by the UNHCR
under its mandate30.

UNHCR plays an active role in ensuring that the States establish National level RSD systems
that are fair, efficient, and adaptable and produce quality decisions. It also works closely with the
States so as to support and enable them to take responsibility for RSD and continue to improve
their systems for the same. The UN General Assembly on 17th December 2018 adopted the
Global Compact on Refugees within which the UNHC will be establishing an Asylum Capacity
Support Group, assisting the States in establishing as well as strengthening their national asylum
Almost every year, UNHCR conducts RSD under its mandate in around 50-60 countries,
according to where the applications are received. In the year 2017, UNHCR registered 252,100
new individual asylum applications, making it the second largest RSD body in the world. At

28 Ibid 17
29 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Refugee Status Determination’, <
30 Ibid 22
31 id

present, till the states assume full responsibility for RSD, the UNHCR jointly with the
government conducts the same in nearly 20 countries32.

Where the UNHCR conducts RSD under its mandate, it constantly endeavors to enhance the
effectiveness of its RSD response and also to find alternatives to individual RSD. It also
encourages the states to do the same. To facilitate this, UNHRC published a glossary of RSD
case processing terms in 2017, which guides the use of case processing methodology in a
particular situation, to the states33.
“Procedural Standards for RSD under UNHCR’s Mandate” presents the basic standards and the
best practices in order to ensure efficient, quality and harmonize RSD procedures. The adoption
and implementation of these revised procedural standards originally published in 2003, ensure
that persons of concern and the international community on the whole continues to have
confidence in the fairness, quality and integrity of the decision making of UNHCR. The
Procedural Standards at present are in the process of revision to stay in tune with various legal
and procedural developments34. The Global Compact on Refugees (sub point of RSD)

The Global Compact on Refugees was affirmed by the United Nations General Assembly on 17
December 2018 after two years of consultation with member states, international organizations,
refugees, civil society, private sector and experts, led by the UNHCR. It is a roadmap for
governments, international organizations and other interested parties in order to ensure that the
host community gets the support it needs and resultantly refugees can lead productive lives. This
will in return benefit both the refugees and the host communities and change the way the world
responds to refugee situations. The four key objectives of The Global Compact on refugees are:

Ease the pressure on host countries;
Enhance refugee self-reliance;
Expand access for third-country solutions

32 id
33 id
34 id

Support conditions in countries of origin for return in safety and dignity.35

5.2.6 Conclusion

To summarize the status of refugees, UNHCR endeavors to ensure that the States are aware of
and take proactive action on their obligation to protect refugees and persons seeking asylum.
Since, the UNHCR is not a supranational organization, it cannot be treated as a substitute for
government responsibility. Countries cannot forcibly return or refoulement refugees to territories
where they face danger or discrimination. Refuges should be given the benefit of economic and
social rights to the same degree as other foreign residents of the country of asylum. Where a
person in granted temporary refuge or asylum, states should allow a spouse or dependent
children to join them36. Refugees have a right to safe asylum which is not restricted to only
physical safety. They should be given at least the same rights and elementary help as any other
foreigner who is a legal resident is given like freedom of thought, movement, freedom from
torture and degrading treatment. Refugees should also be accorded equal economic and social
rights along with the access to medical care, schools and right to work. Where adequate
government resources are not immediately available because of a sudden arrival of large numer
of persons, UNHC provides the necessary assistance. In return refugees are required to respect
the laws and regulations of the country of their asylum. Recently, in countries like France,
Netherlands, Canada and Unites States genital mutilation has been officially recognized as a
form of persecution and therefore, can be a basis of refugee status. Even Homosexuals are
considered to be eligible for refugee status on the grounds of persecution because of being
member of a particular social group37. Lastly, for a majority of refugees, voluntary repatriation is
the preferred long term solution but because of ongoing threat of persecution or some other
reason some civilians cannot repatriate and are not able to live permanently in their country of
asylum and therefore, in these cases, resettlement in a third country in the only feasible option38.

35 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘The Global Compact on Refugees’ , <
36 UNHCR The UN Refugee Agency, ‘Protecting Refugees: questions and answers’, published on 1
February 2002, <
37 Ibid 25
38 Ibid 29

5.2 Internally Displaced Persons

5.2.1 Definitions

Internally displaced persons (also known as "IDPs") are "persons or groups of persons who have
been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in
particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of
generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who
have not crossed an internationally recognized border39."

“Internally Displaced Person” is a not a legal term, it is a rather descriptive term. Irrespective of
the fact that both refugees and IPs face the same difficulties, IDPs are not granted the same rights
as that of refugees under the International Law. The status of IDPs is regulated by the Guiding
Principles on Internal Displacement unlike the legally binding 1951 Convention and 1967
Protocol for the assistance of refugees40. Today there are a total of 41.3 million IDPs

IDPs are people who have been forced to leave their homes because of the causes mentioned
above and those who remain within the borders of their country. Even though they are no
universally binding instruments to address their plight, International Humanitarian Law and the
domestic law protect them. Moreover, the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement has
received a huge support from the International community over time and many states have even
incorporated them in their domestic laws. Example – involvement of displaced people in
planning and managing their concerns, along with providing displaced persons a lasting return
and resettlement. International Humanitarian Law provides for their protection as civilians
provided they have not taken direct part in hostilities. International Humanitarian Law at the

39 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement 1998
40 Concern worldwide U.S., ‘Refugee, Migrant, IDP: What’s the Difference’, published on February 2,
2017, <>
41 Ibid 15

forefront plays an important role in preventing displacement expect where it is absolutely
necessary because of military reasons or protection of civilians themselves42.

IDPs often find themselves being made targets or used as pawns by the belligerents. They
generally suffer a considerably higher mortality rate than the general population and fall victims
of physical attacks, sexual assault, abduction etc. Women and children form the majority of IDPs
and are at an increased risk of abuse because they tend to remain close to the zones of conflict43.
IDPs can be safely termed as some of the world’s most vulnerable populations because they are
unable to leave the country if they wanted to and have to resort to either staying with family
members or friends willing to keep them till they have go back home44. Similarly, because of
national sovereignty the primary responsibility for the assistance and protection of IDPs vests
with the country in which the person has been displaced, therefore, other governments are unable
to provide them protection. Resultantly, IDPs who are suffering persecution at the hands of their
own government are vulnerable45. Some countries with some the largest number of Internally
Displaced Persons are Colombia, Syria, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia46.

5.2.2 How are Internally Displaced Persons different from Refugees?

The most important requirement in order to be considered as a refugee is the crossing of an
International border. Persons who are forcefully displaced from their homes but cannot or choose
not to cross the border even if under same circumstances and challenges are not considered
refugees.47 Moreover, unlike refugees, IDPs do not enjoy special status in international law with
rights specifically addressing their situation48.

42 International Committee of The Red Cross, ‘Internally Displaced persons and international
humanitarian law’, published 20 March 2018, <
43 United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner, ‘Questions and Answers about IDPs’,
44 Ibid 20
45 id
46 Ibid 6
47 Ibid 36
48 id

5.2.3 Rights of Internally Displaced Persons

All human rights articulated by international human rights instruments and customary law are
enjoyed by IDPs49. IHL provides them with the same rights as available to other civilians in case
of armed conflicts. The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement,1998, have compiled all the
existing international human rights and humanitarian laws and restated them along with
clarifying the grey areas or gaps in various instruments with respect to the situation of the
IDPs50. Guiding Principles provide thirty strategies for Governments and humanitarian
organizations to help IDPs. Guiding Principles are divided into five main sections:

1. General Principles;
2. Principles relating to protection from arbitrary displacement;
3. Principles relating to protection during displacement;
4. Principles relating to humanitarian assistance; and
5. Principles relating to return or resettlement and integration51.

The Guiding Principles provide that once persons have been displaced, they shall be entitled to
basic economic, social, cultural, civil, political, basic human assistance like food, medicine,
shelter, right to be protected from violence, right to education, freedom of movement and
residence, including the right to participate in public affairs and economic activities. Displaced
persons are also vested with the right to seek assistance from the competent authorities for their
voluntary, safe return, resettlement or local integration. They are also provided assistance to
recover lost property and other possessions and where restoration cannot be carried out, the
Guiding Principles provide for adequate compensation or reparation52. It should however be
noted that Guiding Principles are neither a treaty nor a declaration, these are merely guidelines
and hence, are not binding on the States.

Therefore, because of the involvement of the element of sovereignty, State Governments where
the IDPs are found have the primary responsibility of their assistance and protection. At the

49 id
50 Ibid 30
51 Ibid 9,p. 153
52 Ibid 36

international level, there is no single agency or organization that carries out the global task of
assisting and protecting IDPs. Therefore, in order to address the growing numbers of IDPs a
collaborative approach should be sought for53.

53 id

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