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When the UN Secretary-General, António Guterres, announced the establishment of a High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement in October 2019, the challenges ahead were daunting and expectations high. With steadily rising numbers of internally displaced people (IDPs) around the world, the need to address this global issue collectively and with urgency had become evident.

The panel’s terms of reference, which called for “innovative and concrete solutions for IDPs and tangible changes on the ground”, set the bar high for it to start its work in February 2020. The collective effort of governments, policy makers, donors and practitioners rallying around an issue long considered marginal shows what can be achieved with the right focus, dedication and resources.

The panel’s work has been supported and its analysis shaped by the contributions of hundreds of stakeholders who sent written submissions and shared their ideas in person and online. Importantly, despite the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, these included the perspectives of IDPs and host communities themselves.

The uniqueness and inclusiveness of the process has been recognised and appreciated by many. The panel submitted its report to the Secretary-General on the sidelines of the UN general assembly in New York on 29 September 2021. It makes a range of recommendations to the Secretary-General himself, the UN system, governments, international and national NGOs, the private sector and the media. If implemented, some could help to bring about real change on the ground.

By proposing ways to reduce both the scale and risk of internal displacement worldwide and by putting the focus explicitly on solutions, the report has the potential to transform the way the issue is tackled over the coming decade. Follow-up over the next few weeks will be critical. The report is a foundation upon which we must all build together. We must ensure that the unprecedented political momentum that gave birth to the process is nurtured and maintained. IDMC offers reflections here on the report’s key takeaways and priority areas for action.


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