Internally Displaced Persons

Khalid Koser

in Global Migration Governance

Published in print January 2011 | ISBN: 9780199600458
Published online January 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191723544 | DOI:
Internally Displaced Persons

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A chapter on internally displaced persons (IDPs) stands out from the other chapters in this volume in that it concerns internal rather than international migrants; and people who are therefore almost always citizens of the country where they have migrated or been displaced. In addition to providing an overview of the institutional, political, and normative elements of the response to internal displacement, this chapter therefore focuses on wider implications for the global governance of international migration. Citizenship is still on the whole the preserve of sovereign states, and so inter-state regulation is less an issue for IDPs than for international migrants. At the same time, there has been a rapid evolution of institutional cooperation in assisting and protecting IDPs. The way that international organizations have overcome institutional rivalries and worked towards innovative responses to gaps in their mandates to protect IDPs has important lessons for the international response to other migrants such as those resulting from the effects of climate change who do not clearly fall within the responsibility of a single agency. At the political level, the key challenge has been to negotiate international intervention in a sovereign domain. The evolution of the ‘Responsibility to Protect’ (R2P) concept has been critical here, and this chapter analyses its relationship to IDPs. At the same time, the way that R2P also pertains to the protection of other migratory citizens, including internal migrants, returning refugees, and international migrants, is analysed. Finally, at the normative level, the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement represent a good example of ‘bottom-up’ consensus-building. The Guiding Principles are in essence a restatement of existing international humanitarian and human rights law as they apply to IDPs, and are not binding upon states. They have nevertheless gained widespread international acceptance and form the basis for a growing body of domestic law. There may be lessons to learn here for the global governance of particularly controversial areas of international migration such as migrant workers.

Keywords: internally displaced persons; Responsibility to Protect; Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement; soft law

Chapter.  6454 words. 

Subjects: Political Theory

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