Photo credits: OCHA/Iason Athanasiadis

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement make clear that national authorities “have the primary duty and responsibility to provide protection and humanitarian assistance to internally displaced persons within their jurisdiction” (Principle 3(1)).

Like all human beings, internally displaced persons enjoy human rights that are articulated by international human rights instruments and customary law. In situations of armed conflict, moreover, they enjoy the same rights as other civilians to the various protections provided by international humanitarian law – OHCHR.

Since 2013, the Interagency Standing Committee, including its UN members and partner organizations, have stepped-up efforts to mainstream protection and human rights in their humanitarian work, and in their work in support of governments. This approach that is referred to as “Centrality of Protection” means that protection, including protection of IDPs, should inform all efforts to prepare and respond to humanitarian crises, as well as efforts to ensure that States fulfill their primary responsibility to protect vulnerable populations.

Internally displaced people – unlike refugees – have not crossed an international border. IDPs remain in their own country and under the protection of its government, even if that government is the reason for their displacement.

The Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons has noted that advancing domestic legislation, policy-making, and governance instruments remains a key step to enhance the protection of IDPs. Although serious challenges remain in the area of law enforcement, the Law and Policy Task Team of the Global Protection Cluster has mapped 29 Laws, 22 Policies, 62 Strategies or Action plans, 17 ongoing IDP specific normative processes and a total 114 IDP specific instruments across 46 countries.

Key resources

To top