United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

20 October 1995


Fiftieth session
Agenda item 112 (c)


Internally displaced persons

Note by the Secretary-General

  The  Secretary-General has the  honour to  transmit to the  members of the
General  Assembly  the  report  prepared  by   the  representative  of   the
SecretaryGeneral on internally displaced persons, Mr. Francis Deng  (Sudan),
in accordance with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/57 of 3  March
1995 and Economic and Social Council decision 1995/273 of 25 July 1995.

95-31166 (E)   221195/...
/...  A/50/558




Report on internally displaced persons prepared by
the representative of the Secretary-General,     
Mr. Francis Deng, in accordance with paragraph 16
of Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/57 
of 3 March 1995 and Economic and Social Council  
decision 1995/273 of 25 July 1995


1.   Significant progress has been made  over the last few years  in how the
international community deals with internal displacement.   But a great deal
remains   to  be   done  to   establish   and  consolidate   the  normative,
institutional and  operational frameworks required  for an effective  system
of  protection,  assistance  and  sustainable  development  for   internally
displaced persons. Although it is not  possible to predict how  the response
of  the  international  community   to  the  epidemic   crisis  of  internal
displacement will  evolve  in the  future,  certain  indicators are  already
apparent.  It  is clear that  there is  no international  political will  at
present  to  establish a  special  mechanism  for the  internally  displaced
comparable to  that  in  place for  refugees.   Nor is  it  likely that  one
existing  agency will be  designated to  assume full  responsibility for the
internally displaced.  Consequently,  for the foreseeable  future, the  more
practical  alternative  is likely  to  be  one  of  collaboration among  the
various agencies  whose mandates and scope of operations are relevant to the
needs  of  the  internally  displaced.    The  focus remains  one  of  State
responsibility for the citizens and the  role of the international community
is to support and sanction that responsibility.

2.  It is  with this realization in mind that the role of the representative
of the Secretary-General  for internally  displaced persons,  as defined  by
the  various resolutions of the  Commission on Human  Rights and the General
Assembly and the directives of the  Secretary-General, has evolved over  the
last several years  into one  of a catalyst, a  liaison and an advocate  for
the internally displaced.  In practical terms, this means raising the  level
of consciousness  about  the problem  at both  the global  and the  national
levels,  stimulating   dialogue  among   all   concerned  and   facilitating
cooperation between national and international actors.

3.   The  present document  is  based on  the representative's  most  recent
report  to the Commission on Human Rights in February 1995, which summarized
the  main findings  of  the representative  over the  past three  years, the
activities undertaken, the progress made, the difficulties encountered,  and
the  preliminary  conclusions  reached   on  the  issue  of  protection  and
assistance  for the internally  displaced.   That report,  which the General
Assembly  may wish  to consult  (E/CN.4/1995/50 and  Add.1-4), reviewed  his
missions  to  nine countries  and follow-up  activities  to those  missions,
discussed  in  detail  the  issue  of  legal  standards,  analysed  relevant
institutional  mechanisms  and  capacities  and  examined  strategies  being
developed to provide better assistance and protection.  Finally, it outlined
the fundamentals for a plan of action to address the protection,  assistance
and development needs of the internally displaced.  
  4.  It  may be recalled that the Commission on Human Rights  at its forty-
eighth  session  in  1992  requested  the  Secretary-General  to  appoint  a
representative  to study  the  human  rights issues  related  to  internally
displaced   persons,   and   that   following   the   submission   of    the
representative's comprehensive  study in 1993  (E/CN.4/1993/35, annex),  the
Commission  extended  his  mandate  for another  two  years.   In  1995  the

Commission  extended the representative's mandate for a further three years.
In compliance  with the most recent  resolutions of  the Commission (1994/68
and  1995/57)  and the  General  Assembly  (48/135), the  representative has
reported to the General Assembly at  its forty-eighth (A/48/579, annex)  and
forty-ninth  (A/49/538,  annex)  sessions,  as  well  as  to  the   fiftieth
(E/CN.4/1994/44  and  Add.1)  and fifty-first  sessions  (E/CN.4/1995/50 and
Add.1-4) of the Commission.


5.  Internal displacement has become a monumental  crisis in both scope  and
intensity.   Among its causes are  internal conflict,  ethnic strife, forced
relocation,  and gross  violations of  human  rights.   When  the Commission
first  considered the subject  in 1992,  the number  of internally displaced
persons was estimated  at about  24 million.  The  total is now believed  to
have  climbed to  at least  30 million,  surpassing the number  of refugees.
According to  existing data, there are  approximately 16 million  internally
displaced persons in Africa, 6 to 7 million in Asia, more than  5 million in
Europe and  up to  3 million  in the  Americas.   The  number of  internally
displaced in fact may be even higher, given  the reticence of Governments to
admit  the  existence  of  the problem  and  considering  that there  is  no
institution  charged  with collecting  the  information.    Nor  is there  a
consistent methodology among the various groups  that do collect the  data. 
In addition, in countries  or areas of  countries where there is minimal  or
no  operation  by  the  United  Nations  or  other  international  agencies,
displaced persons can remain hidden from  or forgotten by the  international
community. 1/

6.  The United Nations High Commissioner for  Refugees estimates that one in
every 130  people in the world  has been forced into  flight and has  become
either externally or internally displaced. 2/   Internal conflicts, which in
the  postcold-war  era  have become  more prevalent  than  conflicts between
States, are  a principal  cause of  displacement. 3/   It is  estimated that
internal  conflicts are forcing  the flight  of an  estimated 10,000 persons
daily. 4/   Another major  factor explaining the  rising toll  of internally
displaced persons  is the  increasing international  preoccupation with  the
prevention  of refugee  flows. The  growing  reluctance  of States  to admit
large numbers  of refugees or  to finance their  stay in  third countries is
forcing greater  numbers of  persons to  remain displaced  within their  own

7.   Because  they remain  under the  control of  national authorities,  the
internally displaced, unlike refugees, often do  not receive the  assistance
and  protection of  the international  community.    The vast  majority live
under the  adverse conditions of a  hostile environment,  where their access
to protection  and assistance is constrained.   Moreover,  while all victims
in  internal  conflict  situations  are  at  serious  risk,  the  internally
displaced  are often more  vulnerable.  Some of  the highest mortality rates
ever recorded during  humanitarian emergencies have come from situations  of
internal  displacement, where  the death  rates among  internally  displaced
persons  have been as  much as  60 times higher than  those of non-displaced
within the same  country. 5/  The internally  displaced are also often  more
vulnerable to round-up, forcible resettlement,  arbitrary detention, arrest,
forcible conscription  or sexual assault, and  suffer more often from a lack
of food and health care.

8.   In  recent years,  an increasing  number  of  United Nations  agencies,
humanitarian organizations and non-governmental  groups have expanded  their
areas  of operations  to respond to  the needs of  the internally displaced.
In particular,  the  Office of  the  United  Nations High  Commissioner  for
Refugees  (UNHCR)  and  humanitarian  organizations like  the  International
Committee  of  the  Red Cross  (ICRC)  have  substantially  increased  their
involvement  with internally displaced  populations.  Other agencies such as
the  United  Nations  Children's  Fund (UNICEF),  the  World  Food Programme
(WFP), the United  Nations Development  Programme (UNDP),  the World  Health

Organization (WHO)  and the International  Organization for Migration  (IOM)
have also become more involved, and  the Department of Humanitarian  Affairs
of the Secretariat has taken steps,  in particular through the  Inter-Agency
Task  Force on  Internally Displaced  Persons, to  strengthen  coordination.
These  collaborative  arrangements  can  considerably  enhance   assistance,
protection and  development for internally displaced persons. None the less,
international  efforts are  mostly  ad  hoc  and often  do  not reach  large
numbers of internally  displaced persons  at risk.     Moreover, they  focus
more often on relief than on protection.

9.   One of  the main  reasons for the appointment  of the representative of
the Secretary-General was "the  absence of a  focal point within the  United
Nations system"  (Commission on Human  Rights resolution  1993/95) to  bring
attention to the need for improved  protection and assistance for internally
displaced  persons   and  to  address  the  human  rights  and  humanitarian
dimensions of the problem.   In the past three years, the representative has
tried to raise awareness, especially within  the Commission on Human  Rights
and  the  General   Assembly  and  among  humanitarian  agencies  and   non-
governmental organizations,  of what is generally  recognized as  one of the
most challenging problems of our time. 


A.  Country profiles

10.   As one  of the  principal elements  of the mandate,  on-site visits to
countries  with serious problems of internal displacement are conducted with
two  main  objectives:   assessing  first-hand  the  situation  in order  to
determine  what  needs to  be  done  by  Governments  and the  international
community to address the  problems involved; and  acquiring information  and
insights  that deepen  understanding of  the  generic problems  of  internal
displacement and  perhaps help  in formulating standards and  strategies for
its solution.  Both  objectives fulfil a catalytic role by raising the level
of consciousness among the pertinent actors, generating functional  dialogue
with  all concerned  and fostering  a  collaborative process  involving  the
primary  responsibility   of  the  Government   and  the  complementary   or
supplementary role of the international community.
  11.   Following the representative's appointment  in 1992,  he visited the
former  Yugoslavia, the  Russian  Federation,  Somalia,  the  Sudan  and  El
Salvador,   upon   which   he   reported   in   his   comprehensive    study
(E/CN.4/1993/35,  annex).  Since the  extension of his mandate  in 1993, the
representative has visited Sri  Lanka (November 1993), Colombia (June 1994),
Burundi (September 1994), Rwanda (December 1994)  and Peru (August 1995) and
has    prepared    country   profiles    on    each    of    those    visits
(E/CN.4/1994/44/Add.1;  E/CN.4/1995/50/Add.1, 2 and 4; the report on Peru is
forthcoming).  Each of  the reports provides an  overview of the  particular
crisis of internal displacement, an analysis  of the humanitarian and  human
rights  issues  involved  and   suggestions  to  the   Government  and   the
international community  for corrective measures.   The following are  major
themes  highlighted in  the reports  as central  to the  problem of internal

Manifestation of the problem

12.    Internal  displacement  manifests  itself  differently  in  different
countries. In several countries visited -  for instance, Somalia, the Sudan,
Sri  Lanka,  the  former  Yugoslavia  and   Rwanda  -  the  displaced   were
identifiable  as large  clusters of  people  in  camps, uprooted  from their
homes and divested  of their natural  resource base,  as a  result of  which
they  were entirely  dependent  on humanitarian  assistance  and  precarious
protection from  the controlling authorities.   In contrast,  in El Salvador
those internally  displaced in  the aftermath  of the  peace agreement  were
often integrated into rural  areas but still constrained by lack of land and
vital services  and in  precarious security  conditions.   In Colombia,  the
displaced sought security by merging  into established communities,  only to

find that owing to  similar levels of poverty and inadequate protection, the
host communities  could  provide  little relief  to the  displaced  persons'
plight.   The situation  in Burundi  brought together  the various  forms of
internal  displacement:    the  "displaced"  in  the  army-protected   camps
represented  the   typical  form  seen  in   many  countries,  whereas   the
"dispersed", who merged  into rural areas to avoid the security forces, were
somewhat  comparable to the  displaced of  El Salvador  and Colombia; unlike
the  latter, however,  they did  not  disappear  into rural  communities but
dispersed into the hills,  the marshes or the  valleys away from  the roads.
In Peru, with the radical reduction  of terrorist violence, displacement  is
now manifested in  several forms:  those still  displaced in rural areas  of
temporary  settlement,  mostly among  the  original  inhabitants;  those  in
squatter   settlements   around   urban  centres;   and   returnees  seeking
reintegration  into their original  setting.   A significant  feature of the
displacement problem  in Peru is  that displaced populations from previously
marginalized  poor rural  areas often  prefer to resettle  in or  near urban
centres where they  have access to such social services as education, health
care and other amenities.

13.   It  is important  to consider  the different  ways in  which  internal
displacement  manifests  itself  in  designing  solutions  to  the  problem.
Assistance provided to internally displaced persons in  camps or settlements
obviously must be organized in a different way from that provided when  they
are integrated  into communities; in the  latter case,  assistance is better
organized on a community  basis.  When internally  displaced persons are  in
hiding, special strategies are  needed to secure access to them and  provide
protection.  And then there is  the challenging response of those who in the
quest for  a better  life prefer  not to  return to  their original  setting
where poverty, marginalization,  perhaps even exclusion had dominated  their

The causes

14.   Common to all of the countries visited, the main cause of displacement
is violence  in the context of  internal conflict.   In Sri Lanka,  Burundi,
Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, the lines along  which conflict occurs are
principally ethnic.   In  Colombia and Peru,  these lines  are less  clearly
defined,  having mainly to  do with  the conflicting  economic and political
backgrounds  and objectives  of contending  groups (e.g.  guerrilla  forces,
paramilitary  groups,  drug traffickers,  armed  forces).    The  underlying
historical, political and socio-economic factors both explain and  determine
the nature of the  conflict in each country.   Regional parameters,  such as
the  historical  and  political  relationship  with neighbouring  countries,
often also affect the situation in the country concerned.

Protection and assistance concerns

15.   In  the countries  visited,  the  internally displaced  were generally
found to  have serious protection and  assistance needs  and were vulnerable
to human  rights abuses.  They  generally suffered from  a lack of  adequate
housing, basic  health care, counselling  and income generation  programmes.
In  Colombia,   the  perception  and  treatment   of  the   displaced  as  a
marginalized group often resulted in serious  threats to their security such
as being tracked down  by their persecutors even  after they had  fled their
homes.  In Burundi,  many displaced Hutus spent  weeks hiding in the marshes
so that  the  Tutsi-dominated  army  would not  find  and kill  them,  while
displaced  Tutsis,  protected  by  the   army,  were  often  prevented  from
returning to  their homes,  both by  the army  for political reasons  and in
fear of  their Hutu  adversaries.  In  Sri Lanka,  the internally  displaced
were particularly  susceptible to searches  at check-points and  cordon-and-
search operations,  and at  risk of  being returned  to areas  in which  the
security  situation was precarious.   In all cases  women heads of household
were  numerous and  faced special  protection  problems.   As  manifested in
Peru,  indigenous  peoples  forcibly  displaced  from  their  lands   suffer
disproportionately:   they lose  not only  their subsistence  base, but also
their  traditional  way  of life,  and in  urban  centres, where  they often

prefer to remain in  the quest for better  living conditions, become exposed
to new forms of discrimination.

Needs of women

16.   In  most instances,  the majority  of  displaced  are women  and their
dependent children.  Women,  however, are often  marginalized, especially in
camp  settings,  and  consulted  less  than  men  regarding  the  nature and
distribution  of  material   assistance.    This  can  often  have   serious
consequences  for their receipt  of adequate  relief.   Displaced women also
face  serious  security problems.    Often,  they  are  subjected to  sexual
violence which, as well  documented in United Nations reports with regard to
women in  the former  Yugoslavia, may  be systematic  and intended  to cause
displacement.   Many have witnessed killings  and atrocities first-hand  and
may suffer from psychological and physical trauma.     

 17.    Women displaced  in the context  of armed  conflict often become the
sole  supporters  of  their  families  owing  to  the  death,   disablement,
disappearance  or military  recruitment of their husbands.   Viable economic
solutions for  women heads of household,  however, are  often complicated by
limited resources  and opportunities  and discriminatory  practices of  land

Needs of children

18.  Displacement  also has serious negative  effects on children and  their
development.   They regularly  suffer from a lack  of shelter, warmth, food,
health  care  and  education.    Separation  from  their  families  or being
orphaned  has left many children  unaccompanied, with no  one to provide for
their needs.   As reported in Liberia,  Mozambique and the  Sudan, displaced
children are  often prey to forcible  recruitment into  militia which compel
them to  commit atrocities against civilians.   The  problems these children
face  are  immense,  especially  if they  have  grown  up apart  from  their
families  and have  been  combatants  most of  their  lives.   In Peru,  for
instance, some children are reported to  exhibit unusual levels of  violence
years after they have returned to a "normal" lifestyle.

Differences in treatment of displaced persons and refugees

19.   There is  considerable discrepancy  in the ways in  which refugees and
internally displaced persons are perceived and treated by the  international
community, even  when  they face  similar  problems  in virtually  the  same
circumstances.  This was particularly manifest  in Burundi, where the  level
of international involvement with refugees from  Rwanda was higher than with
those  who were internally  displaced.   In the  Sudan, internally displaced
persons are  also often  unprotected and  in need,  while refugees  can have
access  to   a  welldeveloped   international  system   of  protection   and
assistance.  This disparity between persons equally in need can prolong  the
suffering  of  those internally  displaced,  engender  conflict  with  those
benefiting  from more  international  attention, and  frustrate  efforts  at
national reconciliation  and  development. Clearly,  ways must  be found  to
ensure  that  there  is  a  more  equitable  distribution  of  international

Presence of the international community

20.   As no  one agency  is specifically mandated  to address  the needs  of
internally displaced  persons, international responses  to their plight  are
highly uneven.   In some situations, the  needs of the internally  displaced
are met  to varying degrees but in  others they are largely neglected or not
addressed at all.   Even in situations where the international community has
extensive  humanitarian operations, the  attention that  it provides  to the
internally  displaced  may  be  less  than  the  need  requires.   Moreover,
protection  does not constitute  a primary  area of concern for  many of the
international agencies involved with the displaced.

21.    The  constraints  to  which   humanitarian  action  is  subjected  in
situations  of  internal  displacement  offer  a  partial  explanation   for
international reluctance to become involved.   Among the  inhibiting factors
are:   governmental  refusal to  recognize  the problem  or allow  entry  to
international  organizations;  bureaucratic  and  administrative  procedures
that obstruct  humanitarian efforts; a  precarious security situation;  lack
of expertise in working with victims  of armed conflict; limited  resources;
and the  fact that the  displaced in a number of  situations do not identify
themselves as such but live anonymously dispersed in different  communities.
Another  difficulty for the  international community in becoming involved in
internal  conflict  situations is  the  maintenance  of  its  standing as  a
neutral  and impartial  entity.   In the  midst  of  war or  ethnic rivalry,
United  Nations  agencies  have faced  difficulties  in  being  perceived as
upholding a fully neutral, non-partisan image.

Approach to Governments

22.    In  dealing  with   the  many  and  diverse  situations  of  internal
displacement, it  is important to understand  the national  context in which
they occur, the  obstacles to providing  adequate protection and assistance,
and what  needs to  be done  both by  Governments and  by the  international
community to remedy the  situation.  This  can best be done by  recognizing,
in  a spirit  of cooperation  with  Governments, that  internally  displaced
persons fall  within the domestic jurisdiction  and are  therefore under the
sovereignty  of  the countries  concerned,  but  that  national  sovereignty
carries  with   it  certain  responsibilities   towards  those  within   its
jurisdiction.  If,  during crises of internal displacement, Governments  are
unable  to discharge  their responsibilities to provide  their citizens with
adequate  protection and  assistance, they  are  expected  to invite,  or at
least accept,  international cooperation  to supplement  their own  efforts.
Where  Governments or  controlling authorities  are unable  or  unwilling to
live  up to their  responsibilities and  are not  receptive to international
assistance, the  international community  should be  expected to assert  its
concern  and  fill  the  vacuum  created  by  the  Government's  failure  to
discharge its responsibility.

Areas under insurgent control

23.   Special problems  arise with  respect to  situations where  internally
displaced persons are in insurgent-controlled areas  to which access may  be
limited or not  possible because of ongoing conflict or fear on  the part of
the  Government that this could  imply recognition of insurgent  forces.  On
the other hand,  humanitarian agencies such as  UNICEF, UNHCR and ICRC  have
been able to establish dialogues with  both Governments and non-governmental
actors  in different countries  in order  to negotiate access  to persons on
all  sides of conflict  situations.   NGOs also have managed  to work behind
insurgent lines and in recent years have begun to monitor the compliance  of
non-governmental  actors  with  international  humanitarian  law  and  human
rights principles.   Some  Governments have  indeed drawn  attention to  the
fact  that  insurgent  forces  are  often  responsible  for  violations   of
humanitarian law and should therefore  be held accountable.   The mandate of
the  representative has  benefited  from openings  created  by  humanitarian
organizations and NGOs.

24.    Direct  contact  with  insurgent  authorities  under  compelling  and
appropriate  humanitarian  conditions  should  also  be  recognized  as   an
indispensable aspect  of  the mandate.    Furthermore,  since peace  is  the
ultimate  solution  to  the  problem  of   displacement,  it  clearly  is  a
correlative responsibility  of the  mandate to  convey that  message to  the
parties; contact with both sides may therefore be a practical imperative. 

B.  Impact and follow-up to visits
25.     Missions  offer   opportunities  to  discuss  specific  issues  with
Governments and  international organizations and  to reach agreements  which
can  lead  to  actual  improvements  in  the  situation.    Governments have

generally been responsive to on-site visits  and have welcomed the resulting
reports as constructive  contributions to understanding  the crisis in their
countries and facilitating an appropriate  cooperative approach.   Local and
international  NGOs have  found  that the  representative's  missions  raise
domestic  awareness  of   the  problem  and  help  encourage  solutions   by
government authorities,  NGOs and  relief agencies. Moreover, the  mere fact
of a visit  attracts the attention not  only of the  Government but  also of
other elements  of the  society and  generates a  discourse that  stimulates
internal initiatives to deal with the problem.

26.   At the  same time,  no established  procedure or  mechanism exists  to
monitor situations  in  countries visited  and  to  ensure that  the  points
agreed upon are implemented.  The  Commission on Human Rights has emphasized
the  importance of  follow-up  activities  in its  resolutions  1994/68  and
1995/57, and  United  Nations agencies,  in particular  UNDP, have  declared
their  commitment to  cooperate with the  representative in this  area.  The
Inter-Agency Task  Force on  Internally Displaced  Persons,  chaired by  the
Department  of Humanitarian Affairs,  could also  play a  role in monitoring
the  conditions of internally  displaced persons in particular countries and
keeping the representative apprised of the  situation. NGOs with a  presence
in the country could do likewise.

27.  Also essential are follow-up  communications and, if possible,  follow-
up  visits by the  representative.   Opportunities for  the latter, however,
are constrained  by  limited  resources.   Follow-up  information  is  being
received by  Governments, intergovernmental  organizations and  NGOs in  the
countries visited. In addition, the reports by country-specific  rapporteurs
of the Commission  on Human Rights often  provide updated information on the
situation of the internally displaced.

28.   The following  are some  examples of  the recent  exchanges that  have
taken place  subsequent to on-site  visits and some  of the new  information
provided by in-country sources.


29.   The  representative's urgent  appeal  of 2  June 1995  concerning  the
displacement  of 15 families from  the Santander village of La Leal received
a reply from the Government on 10 July 1995.  It  noted the completion on 20
May  1995 of  the  supervised  and voluntary  return of  the families.   The
Government  also reported its  intention to convene  a meeting  in July with
civil,   military  and   religious  leaders,   NGOs  and   local   community
organizations in order  to avert similar incidents.   A second reply,  dated
21 July  1995, to  an earlier  urgent appeal of  22 August  1994 to  protect
against  forcible  displacement  by  military  and  paramilitary  forces  of
settlements  in the region of Santander, detailed corrective measures taken,
including  an   investigation   into   the   security   situation   inducing
displacement,  a meeting  with the  displaced  families who  expressed their
wish  to  return  to  their  places  of  origin,  and a  commitment  by  the
Government to  ensure  that this  return  would  occur under  conditions  of

30.   The  Government has also  reported on  steps it  has taken  to seek to
alleviate the  plight of the internally  displaced.   These measures include
establishing  a follow-up  commission in  charge of analysing  and promoting
the  fulfilment  of  the  recommendations  made  by the  representative  and
special   rapporteurs,  creating   an   "Information  System   on  Displaced
Populations"  in  cooperation   with  the  International  Organization   for
Migration (IOM),  charging the  newly established Ministry  of the  Interior
with  the development of a  programme of protection and security for persons
threatened with violence, implementing a National Communication Network  for
Human  Rights Protection to  counter impunity,  and creating  rural security

31.   Some  of these  initiatives,  however,  have elicited  expressions  of
serious  concern.   The creation  of  rural  security cooperatives  has been

criticized,  even  by  some  members  of  the  Government,  as  a  means  of
legitimizing  paramilitary  groups  while  the  creation  of a  database  on
displaced  persons  may  impinge  upon  the  right  to  privacy  if adequate
guarantees  are not  provided.    In  addition,  the  mechanism  established
jointly last year by the  Government and NGOs to follow up on progress  made
in  addressing the needs  of the  displaced has  reportedly discontinued its

32.  At the same time, NGOs report that the type of violations described  in
the  representative's  report  continues  to occur  and  that  new  internal
displacement is  taking place.   Political violence in the  Uraba region has
reportedly displaced up to 15,000 people since the end of last year. 

33.  In his  mission report the representative  had called for  strengthened
protection of the right  to land and property, for more rigorous  observance
of  humanitarian  law,  in   particular  of  the  provisions  that  prohibit
displacement and protect  the right to life  and physical integrity, and for
closer cooperation  between the  authorities and  NGOs in  the provision  of
assistance and protection to the displaced.   The representative has not yet
received a  reply to  the note verbale  of 31 May  1995 requesting  specific
information  on   the  extent  to   which  his   recommendations  are  being
implemented.   A  follow-up mission  to Colombia  at the  invitation of  the
Government is being considered.

Sri Lanka

34.   Follow-up  monitoring  in  Sri Lanka  initially  revealed  encouraging
developments since  the representative's  two reports  (E/CN.4/1994/44/Add.1
and E/CN.4/1995/50). 6/   The  Government undertook protective measures  for
the  internally   displaced  such  as   minimizing  military  and   security
operations near the welfare centres where  they are housed and investigating
the thousands of cases of  persons who had disappeared in  the course of the
ongoing armed  conflict.  It also cooperated with international humanitarian
operations which  address the  needs of  the displaced  and itself  provides
relief aid, which it  promised to increase, to persons under the control  of
the main  opposition group.   However,  the recent  breakdown  of the  peace
process  and the resurgence  of violent  clashes between  the Government and
the   Liberation  Tigers  of   Tamil  Ealam   (LTTE)  has   led  to  further
displacement.  The  Government's large-scale  military offensive  of 9  July
1995  north of the  city of  Jaffna, involving  intensive artillery shelling
and  air strikes, immediately  forced the flight  of tens  of thousands from
the area.  7/    In addition,  the security  situation in  the  east and  in
Colombo  has  deteriorated  significantly  due  to  an  intensification   of
insurgent  activities   which,  in  turn,   has  significantly  slowed   the
resettlement and return of the displaced in these areas.

The Sudan

35.   In 1992,  the representative  undertook a mission to  the Sudan, which
houses  one of the  largest internally  displaced populations  in the world.
He  visited camps  of  internally  displaced  persons who  had  fled to  the
capital from the south,  but who then  had been relocated by the  Government
to camps outside  Khartoum.  In  his ongoing dialogue  with the  Government,
the representative has acknowledged the services rendered to the  internally
displaced but has also noted the  continuing grave situation, as highlighted
in the  most recent reports by  the Special Rapporteur  on the situation  of
human rights  in  the Sudan  (A/49/539,  annex  and E/CN.4/1995/58)  and  in
Commission  on Human  Rights  resolution 1995/77.    The  representative has
continued  to urge  the Government  to  implement the  recommendations  made
following  his  mission (see  E/CN.4/1993/35,  annex,  paras.  202-235),  in
particular that  internally displaced  persons  moved to  camps outside  the
capital should  be allowed to go either  back to their areas of origin or to
settlements  close  to  them and  accorded  the  protection  and  assistance
necessary  for their  resumption of  normal and self-sustaining  rural life.
Alternatively, those who  choose not to return should  be free to move  into
any areas  in the country, including  urban centres, and given the necessary

assistance to integrate into these areas.   Although the representative  has
received  a  reply from  the  Government  reaffirming  its  concern for  the
internally  displaced  and its  intention  to  improve their  conditions, no
information on specific measures taken in that regard has been received.


36.   In  the report  following his  mission to  Burundi in  September  1994
(E/CN.4/1995/50/Add.2  and Corr.1),  the  representative noted  that  unless
sustainable peace is achieved, ethnic violence  and therefore the crisis  of
displacement  would  probably  continue.    Subsequent  to that  visit,  the
Special Rapporteur  on the  situation of  human rights  in Burundi  reported
that ongoing ethnic violence in the  city of Bujumbura has  induced numerous
displacements,  principally involving  the Hutu  community in  the areas  of
Bwiza, Buyengi,  Kinama and Kamenge.   In the  first fortnight  of June 1995
alone,  an estimated 50,000  to 100,000  men, women  and children reportedly
fled  from Kamenge to  the surrounding  hills and  banana plantations, where
potable  water, food  and adequate  shelter  are in  short supply  and where
cases of malaria and bacillary dysentery have  been reported.  Meanwhile,  a
breakdown of law and order has been reported, with the  judicial system in a
state of paralysis making it possible for persons  to commit serious acts of
violence against the civilian population with impunity. 

 37.   Following  his mission  to the  country  in  April 1995,  the Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial,  summary or arbitrary executions reported  that
international aid for many  of the internally displaced has been cut off  in
an attempt to avoid a situation of dependency  and to encourage their return
to  their places of  origin (see  E/CN.4/1996/4/Add.1).   This situation has
exacerbated  the tension  between the  internally displaced  and the Rwandan
refugees  in  Burundi, who  continue  to  receive  international  aid.   The
disparity  in the  treatment,  also  pointed  out  in  the  representative's
report, regrettably  has led  to further violence.   For  example, in  April
1995, in  Muyinga, internally  displaced persons  reportedly interrupted  18
World Food  Programme trucks  transporting supplies  intended for  refugees.
Although  a  Ministry  for  the  Reintegration   of  Displaced  Persons  and
Returnees  was created in October 1994 to seek  solutions to these problems,
the  representative is  concerned by complaints of  the internally displaced
of a lack of concrete measures to assist them  or to facilitate their return
and  reintegration in  their communes  of  origin.   The  representative has
raised these issues with international organizations, including in  meetings
of the  Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC),  in order  to secure greater
attention  for   those  internally  displaced  and,  as  a  result,  several
international  humanitarian organizations  have agreed  to look  into  these


38.  In 1994, the Government of Rwanda  announced its intention to  forcibly
close  the camps  of internally  displaced persons.   During his  mission to
Rwanda  in  December  1994  (see  E/CN.4/1995/50/Add.4), the  representative
found that while the Government  had legitimate reasons for wanting to close
the camps, it was  also evident that security  conditions in areas of return
were  far  from  safe.  The  representative  therefore  strongly  urged  the
Government not to coerce displaced persons to move  to unsafe areas or areas
where they would be  unable to sustain themselves.   In April 1995, however,
the Government's  forcible closure  of the  camps and  the excessive use  of
force by the army reportedly resulted in the death of up to 2,000  displaced
persons  in the Kibeho  camp.   This was the largest  massacre of internally
displaced persons in a camp in recent history.

39.   In a  public statement  of 24 April 1995,  the representative deplored
the  forcible  closure  of  the  camps,  and  reiterated  his  call  to  the
Government  to  respect  the  right  of   displaced  persons  to  return  in
conditions of safety and  dignity, and to have their rights to life, liberty
and  security  ensured.    He  stressed  the  need  for  the  Government  to
demonstrate a  clear commitment  to cease the  use of lethal  military force

and to  cooperate  with the  international  community  in the  provision  of
protection and assistance to the displaced. 

40.   In  April  1995, the  Government  announced the  establishment  of  an
independent International Commission of Inquiry on  the Events at Kibeho and
invited representatives  of the Organization of  African Unity  (OAU) and of
several countries to participate in  its work.  In its  report of May  1995,
the Commission recommended, inter alia, that  the Rwandese authorities carry
out  an analysis  of  the mistakes  which occurred  in  the  preparation and
handling of  the closure of  the camps and  an investigation of  individuals
within the  armed forces who  may have been responsible  for contributing to
the event.   It also  regretted that United  Nations agencies  and NGOs were
not  able  to  contribute  more  efficiently  to  the  speedy  evacuation of
internally displaced persons from the Kibeho camp.   In addition, the Inter-
Agency  Task   Force  on   Internally  Displaced   Persons,  of  which   the
representative  is   a   member,   has   been  requested   by   the   Under-
SecretaryGeneral for Humanitarian Affairs to study  the situation in  Kibeho
and to make recommendations for preventing such incidents in the future.

The former Yugoslavia

41.   Since the representative's joint  mission with  the Special Rapporteur
on the former Yugoslavia in 1992,  the situation has worsened  considerably.
Renewed  offensives  on  the six  United  Nations-designated  safe areas  of
Sarajevo, Srebrenica,  Zepa, Gorazde, Tuzla and  Bihac placed  at risk large
numbers of  internally displaced persons  who had taken  refuge there.   The
fall  of Srebrenica  in July  1995 forced the  displacement of  an estimated
23,000 women and children, while another  11,000 persons, mostly men, remain
unaccounted for.   A subsequent offensive on Zepa  induced the flight of  up
to 16,000 persons.

42.   Citing  "above  all  the fact  that  the United  Nations  has  allowed
Srebrenica  and  Zepa  to  fall",  the  Special  Rapporteur  for  the former
Yugoslavia,  Mr. Tadeusz Mazowiecki,  announced his  resignation in a letter
dated  27 July  1995  to the  Chairman of  the  Commission on  Human  Rights
(E/CN.4/1996/9, annex  I). While the departure  of Mr.  Mazowiecki is highly
regrettable, it is to  be hoped that it will precipitate a response from the
international  community to  effectively  protect  the civilian  population,
including the internally displaced, from the atrocities occurring there.

43.    With  regard  to  Croatia,  the  Special  Rapporteur  on  the  former
Yugoslavia  reported on 5  July 1995  (see E/CN.4/1996/6)  that the Croatian
offensive  of  1 May  against  United  Nations  Protected  Area Sector  West
induced the flight of up to 10,000 from this Serb-populated area into  Serb-
held  areas  of  Bosnia  and  Herzegovina   and  also  resulted  in  serious
violations of human rights.  He  also reported on the  internal displacement
within  Croatia of thousands  fleeing from  Sector West  to Serb-held Sector

C.  Countries not visited

44.   The problem of  internal displacement affects far  more countries than
the  missions  of  the representative  would  indicate.    It  is  a  global
phenomenon  warranting  a more  extensive system  of on-site  monitoring and
follow-up than the present  resources of the representative will allow.  The
representative  is  grateful  for  the  information  provided  on   internal
displacement by other special rapporteurs of  the Commission on Human Rights
on countries that he has not  visited, in particular, Afghanistan, Cambodia,
Iraq, Myanmar  and Zaire.   Their  information on  internal displacement  is
summarized   in   the    representative's   report    to   the    Commission
(E/CN.4/1995/50, paras.  80-86).  The  representative urges the  Governments
to take due consideration of the  recommendations of the special rapporteurs
as well as those  of other human  rights mechanisms and treaty bodies  which
address,  directly or  indirectly, the  plight of  the internally displaced.
The representative  also appreciates  the valuable  information provided  on

internally displaced populations by thematic rapporteurs. 

 45.   In  many  other countries,  internal  displacement  is  also a  grave
problem but  one about  which no United  Nations human  rights mechanism  is
specifically  reporting.  It is the intention of the representative to visit
some of  these countries  in  the  near future  in order  to gain  a  better
understanding of the situation of internal displacement.


46.    In  Kenya, UNDP,  in cooperation  with  the Government,  other United
Nations agencies and NGOs has designed a programme  to support the return of
an  estimated 300,000  internally  displaced persons,  displaced  by  ethnic
violence since  1991. The  programme provides for  mediation between  ethnic
groups, the supply of material assistance  and the initiation of development
programmes.  It is  reported that implementation has been slow and that most
internally displaced persons have been unable to return to their land.   The
representative has had  discussions with United Nations agencies in  Nairobi
about  the  programme  and  has  expressed  interest  in  seeing  how  it is
progressing.   The  representative is  currently awaiting  the  Government's
reply to his request to undertake a mission to Kenya.


47.    The  six-month  civil  war  in Tajikistan  in  1992  resulted  in the
displacement  of more  than 500,000  persons,  most  of whom  are internally
displaced.    Since  March  1993,  most  of  the  internally  displaced have
reportedly returned to  their places of origin, with the assistance of UNHCR
and ICRC.  Since it is feared that certain protection problems could  worsen
with the  anticipated withdrawal of  UNHCR, continued  monitoring is needed.
UNHCR  has  secured  the  agreement  of  the  Organization  on  Security and
Cooperation in  Europe (OSCE) and ICRC  to assume  some protection functions
for returnees.    It is  also  reassuring  that the  reintegration  projects
introduced by  UNHCR in areas of return  will be continued by UNDP and other
development agencies.  The representative is  currently discussing with  the
Government the possibility of undertaking a mission to Tajikistan.

Russian Federation (Chechnya)

48.   The outbreak  of conflict  in Chechnya  in December 1994  induced mass
displacement  within the  Russian  Federation.   By  January  1995,  150,000
people had  fled  from the  conflict  area  to the  neighbouring  autonomous
regions of  Ingushetia, Dagestan  and North  Ossetia, and  to the  Stavropol
region of Russia, while 260,000 of  the displaced remained within  Chechnya.
In  May 1995 a  representative of  the United Nations  High Commissioner for
Human  Rights  undertook a  mission  to  the Russian  Federation,  including
Chechnya and  Ingushetia, in  order to  make an  overall  evaluation of  the
human  rights  situation in  Chechnya,  including  an assessment  of related
needs,  and to  analyse the possible  contribution of the  United Nations to
the  promotion  and   protection  of  human  rights  in  the  region.    The
representative has  followed closely  the ongoing dialogue between  the High
Commissioner and the authorities  of the Russian Federation concerning human
rights protection in Chechnya, particularly for the internally displaced.


49.   In south-eastern  Turkey there  are an  estimated 2  million displaced
persons who have been  uprooted largely following  the Turkish  Government's
campaigns against the Kurdish Workers' Party (PKK) guerilla movement.  On  4
April 1995,  and in  response to the  Turkish invasion of  Iraq on 20  March
1995, the  representative, together with the  Chairman of  the Working Group
on Arbitrary Detention, the Special Rapporteur  on extrajudicial, summary or
arbitrary executions, the Special Rapporteur on  torture and the Chairman of
the Working Group on Enforced or  Involuntary Disappearances, issued a joint
urgent appeal calling upon the Government to take all necessary measures  to
ensure the  protection of the  rights, inter alia,  to life  and to physical

and mental integrity of  Turkish and Iraqi  ethnic Kurds.  The  Government's
reply of  6 April stated that  the signatories of the  appeal do not have  a
mandate to  oversee the  performance of  States in  armed conflict,  arguing
that such circumstances fall within the ambit  of international humanitarian
law.   Underlining that human rights law is applicable in all circumstances,
including armed conflict,  whether it occurs in  an area under State control
or in an area where State  agents operate, a letter of 10 May reiterated the
joint urgent  appeal of 4 April.   In its reply  of 16  June, the Government
indicated that its position on the matter was  unchanged.  In the  meantime,
the  representative has  initiated a dialogue with  the Government regarding
the possibility of a mission to Turkey.

/...  A/50/558



A.  Sources of information

50.    The  availability  of  credible   and  up-to-date  information  is  a
requirement  for the fulfilment of the mandate.  Currently, the main sources
of  information available  on the internally displaced  are the fact-finding
missions; reports of  other United Nations  human rights mechanisms; reports
by United Nations agencies in the field;  NGO reports; and communications by
Governments.   A potential  source of  further information  are human rights
field officers  deployed under  the auspices  of the  High Commissioner  for
Human Rights  in areas  where there  are substantial  numbers of  internally
displaced persons.

B.  Developing an information system

51.   The collection  of  information needs  to  be  systematized so  as  to
provide  a  pool  of  information  on  the  various  dimensions  of internal
displacement,  including  how  the  problem  of  internal  displacement   is
manifested  in   individual  countries,  what   remedies  are  provided   by
Governments and the international community, and  what gaps exist that  need
to be filled.  At present, the absence of a central point within the  United
Nations  system  to  bring  together  information  on  internally  displaced
persons is a serious  gap.  The  creation of an information centre  modelled
on UNHCR's Centre for Documentation on  Refugees (CDR) established by  UNHCR
but specific to the  internally displaced would assist in ensuring that  all
situations of  internal displacement are detected  and well  documented.  It
has also been suggested that NGOs  should establish information networks  in
collaboration  with  the   representative  and  that  regional   information
exchange networks should be  created.  Collaborative  arrangements should be
encouraged.   An information  system that  systematically  collects data  on
serious  cases  of  internal  displacement  would  go  a  long  way  towards
identifying  problems  and alerting  United  Nations  bodies  to  situations
requiring attention.

Early warning information

52.    Although  Governments  and  NGOs  have  repeatedly  called  for  more
developed  early warning systems  within the  United Nations, experience has
shown  that such  information is  in  vain unless  there is  a corresponding
"early listening" on  the part of the  international community.   This year,
the  Ad Hoc Consultation on Early Warning of New  Mass Flows of Refugees and
Displaced  Persons  submitted   its  final  report  to  the   Administrative
Committee   on  Coordination   for  consideration   of  its   findings   and

recommendations.   The  representative looks  forward to  close  association
with early warning activities  so that he will  be in a  better position  to
identify  situations that  could  lead  to  mass displacement  and  mobilize
action to address those situations.


53.   There  is at  present no  clear  formulation  of the  legal principles
applicable  to  internally displaced  persons and  no instrument  focused on
their particular  needs.  The development  of a targeted instrument would be
particularly helpful in dialogues of  the representative and of humanitarian
organizations with authorities in the countries  concerned.  Both the United
Nations High Commissioner  for Refugees and the Under-Secretary-General  for
Humanitarian Affairs  have underlined the importance of establishing a legal
framework for the internally displaced.

A.  Development of the legal framework

54.  In  his 1993 comprehensive study  the representative concluded that  it
would  be  valuable  to prepare  a  compilation/commentary  of  the existing
international  standards  relevant  to  the  protection  of  the  rights  of
internally  displaced  persons,  as well  as their  further  elaboration and
inclusion in a body  of principles.   At the request of the  representative,
the  compilation  of  norms  was  undertaken   by  three  highly  accredited
institutions:   the Ludwig  Boltzmann Institute for  Human Rights  (Vienna),
which prepared  one paper,  and the  American Society  of International  Law
jointly  with the  International Human  Rights Law  Group (Washington, D.C.)
which  prepared  another (both  are  included  in  E/CN.4/1995/50/Add.3  and
E/CN.4/1995/CRP.1).   The  Legal Round  Table  hosted  by the  Government of
Austria in  October 1994 gave experts  and representatives of  international
agencies the  opportunity to discuss  the two papers.   This meeting decided
that  the two compilations  should be  merged into  one document identifying
the  needs  of internally  displaced  persons  and  the corresponding  legal
standards relevant  to their  protection.   This document  was prepared  and
presented to two more  round tables, one in Geneva  in May 1995, and another
in  Washington,  D.C.  in  September  1995,  for  further  discussion.   The
document will be presented to the Commission on  Human Rights at its  fifty-
second session.   A  further meeting  of experts,  to be  held in  Vienna in
1996,  is  expected  to  commence  work  on  developing  a  legal  framework
applicable   to   the   internally   displaced   on   the   basis   of   the

55.   In  his  report  to the  Commission on  Human  Rights (E/CN.4/1995/50,
paras.  111-112), the  representative indicated some areas  where gaps exist
in international  law and also  indicated a number  of areas  where specific
norms  could be  enunciated to  provide better  protection  (E/CN.4/1995/50,
para. 135). For example, there  are areas in which the law fails to  provide
sufficient protection for internally displaced persons  such as in the  case
of  forcible return to conditions  of serious danger;  the need for personal
identification, documentation and registration  in order to ensure the means
to exercise  one's legal  rights; the  protection of  relief workers,  their
transports  and supplies;  as well  as  access  by humanitarian  agencies to
provide  protection   and  assistance   to  internally  displaced   persons.
Finally, the Committee  on Internally Displaced Persons of the International
Law Association  has  observed that  international  law  as it  pertains  to
internal  displacement can  be distinguished  in  the  following ways:   the
norms  applicable before  situations  of internal  displacement  occur;  the
norms applicable  in situations of internal  displacement; and  the norms to
be   applied  in  order   to  solve   situations  of  internal  displacement
(E/CN.4/1995/50, para. 137).  The  legal framework to be developed will take
note of these different areas of the law.

56.    The  representative's  efforts  to  compile  existing   international
standards  regarding  the  internally  displaced  and  to  develop  a  legal

framework  have  received  wide  support,  in  particular  from  the  Under-
Secretary-General for  Humanitarian Affairs; the  UNHCR Executive  Committee
(Conclusion adopted in October 1994); the  Addis Ababa Document on  Refugees
and  Forced Population  Displacements  in Africa  (adopted  at  an OAU-UNHCR
seminar  in  1994); the  San  Jose  Declaration  on  Refugees and  Displaced
Persons (adopted by  experts from all  OAS member States in  December 1994);
and  the  United  Nations  High  Commissioner   for  Human  Rights  who  has
underlined the  importance of the  representative's bringing together  human
rights, humanitarian and refugee law in  developing norms applicable to  the
internally  displaced  (E/CN.4/1995/50, para.  138).   It should  finally be
noted that the  Subcommission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection
of Minorities recently  adopted resolution  1995/13 on  freedom of  movement
which, inter  alia, affirmed  the right  of persons  to remain  in peace  in
their own  homes, on  their own  lands and  in their  own territories,  also
affirmed the right  of refugees and displaced  persons to return, in  safety
and dignity, to  their country of  origin and/or within it, to  the place of
origin  or choice,  and urged  Governments and  other actors involved  to do
everything possible  in order  to  cease  at once  all practices  of  forced
displacement, population transfer and "ethnic cleansing".

B.  Definitional issues

57.    The  description  in  the   1992  report  of  the   Secretary-General
(E/CN.4/1992/23, para. 17) of the internally  displaced as "persons who have
been forced to flee  their homes suddenly or unexpectedly in large  numbers,
as  a result of  armed conflict,  internal strife,  systematic violations of
human rights  or  natural  or man-made  disasters; and  who  are within  the
territory of their own country" has served as the working definition of  the
mandate.  This definition, however, is in need  of review.  The Legal  Round
Table in  Vienna questioned the  inclusion of  the terms  "home", "in  large
numbers"  and   "their  own  country"  and   suggested  as  an   alternative
definition:  "Persons  or groups of  persons who  have been  forced to  flee
their homes or places  of habitual residence  suddenly or unexpectedly as  a
result of armed  conflict, internal strife,  systematic violations  of human
rights  or natural  or  man-made disasters,  and  who  have  not crossed  an
internationally recognized State border." 

58.   Common to both of  these definitions are the two essential elements of
internal  displacement:    coerced  movement  and  remaining  within   one's
national borders.   Both also enumerate  the various  causes of displacement
but  some differences have arisen on  this issue.   One view is to limit the
scope of the  definition to those who, if  they had left  their own country,
would  be  considered refugees  8/  under  the  broader refugee  definitions
contained  in the 1969  OAU Convention  and the  1984 Cartagena Declaration,
and  employed  by the  1989  International  Conference on  Central  American
Refugees  (CIREFCA)   9/  and   the  Permanent   Consultation  on   Internal
Displacement  in  the  Americas  (CPDIA).  10/  These  definitions  share an
emphasis on a  presumed element of fear of  persecution and on the need  for
protection  from large-scale  human  rights abuse  emanating  from  internal
strife or  armed conflict;  they are  consistent with  the Commission's  own
interest  in  and action  with respect  to  the  internally displaced.   The
"refugee-like" standard, however, is not unanimously  accepted owing to  its
exclusion  of persons  displaced by  natural disasters  and other  suggested
categories such  as those relocated by  development projects  or by economic
and environmental causes.

59.  Some have questioned  whether there should  be a definition at all,  on
the grounds  that entitlement to assistance  and protection  should be based
not  on the  fulfilment of formal  criteria, but  on need.   To  be sure, in
situations where all persons are at  risk, assistance and protection  should
be provided to  those who require it, no  matter what category they are  in.
At the same  time, it should be  recognized that those  internally displaced
often   share  certain   problems  and  characteristics  that   need  to  be
delineated.    Too often,  the  scope  of  the  target population  receiving
assistance  and  protection  does  not  adequately  include  those  who  are

internally  displaced.   It is  indisputable,  for  instance, that  there is
considerable  discrepancy  in  the  ways in  which  refugees  and internally
displaced persons are perceived and  treated by the international community,
even when  they face similar  problems and sometimes  in virtually the  same
circumstances.  The  main purpose of the definition  is not to create a  new
category of  persons having special rights,  but to  ensure that protections
recognized  as the rights of  persons in certain  situations are extended to
others  in analogous situations  and thereby  promote a  more harmonious and
coherent approach to human rights.


60.   As  no  single operational  agency  in  the  international system  has
responsibility for  the internally  displaced, the most effective  system at
this  point is one  that builds  upon existing  capacities and institutions.
In  recent years, there has  been a growing  willingness on  the part of the
international community to assume greater responsibility for the  internally
displaced.    To  be  sure,  responsibility  for  assisting  and  protecting
internally displaced  persons  lies in  the  first  instance with  the  home
country.   If,  however, the  country is  unable  or  unwilling to  meet the
minimum standards required by humanitarian or  human rights law, then  these
guarantees may  have  to be  met  through  international assistance.    Both
within and  outside the United  Nations system, intergovernmental,  regional
and  non-governmental  bodies are  actively  exploring  and  developing  new
approaches  to  increasing assistance  and  protection  for  the  internally
displaced, and  definite progress  is under  way towards  developing a  more
coherent approach.    

61.   The mandate on  internally displaced persons  has been  carried out in
close  cooperation with  international  agencies.   The  representative  has
maintained close  contacts with  the Secretary-General,  the United  Nations
High Commissioner  for Human  Rights, the  United Nations High  Commissioner
for  Refugees,  the  Under-Secretary-General for  Humanitarian  Affairs, the
Administrator of UNDP, the Executive Director  of WFP, the Chairman of ICRC,
as well  as the senior  officials and directors  of regional  bureaux within
these  organizations to foster cooperative links and exchange of information
on  developments  in  policy  and in  the  field.    He  has  also  actively
participated in  the  work of  the  Inter-Agency  Task Force  on  Internally
Displaced Persons, chaired by  DHA.  During  his missions to the field,  the
representative  has  held extensive  consultations  with  the  officials  of
resident United Nations and other humanitarian agencies. 

A.  United Nations and other entities

62.  While the  United Nations system has not yet developed a  comprehensive
plan  for  improving its  capacity  to  respond  to  situations of  internal
displacement,  important  developments  have occurred  in  the  work  of all
humanitarian agencies that  have involvement with the internally  displaced.
The representative's report to the Commission  on Human Rights reviewed  the
capacities  and the role  that existing institutions  play on  behalf of the
internally displaced (E/CN.4/1995/50, paras. 139-174). 11/   A brief summary
follows, with particular attention paid to protection.

63.  Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees.   Although
its  mandate  does  not  include  internally  displaced  persons,  UNHCR has
increasingly  become involved in situations of internal  displacement at the
request of  the Secretary-General or  the General Assembly.   In 1993  UNHCR
adopted criteria  for its  involvement with  the internally displaced  which
provide that  it will  assume "primary  responsibility" in  situations where
there is "a direct  link" with its basic activities for refugees.   Although
UNHCR does not become involved in  all situations of internal  displacement,
when  it  does its  activities  generally  span assistance,  protection  and
reintegration  support.    UNHCR  has found  that  protection  activities in
countries of origin, namely defending the  human rights and physical  safety

of  those internally  displaced, present many challenges  which are detailed
in  a  recent  report  on  UNHCR's  operational experience  with  internally
displaced persons.  12/   An  overriding  general  concern is  that  UNHCR's
increasing  involvement with the internally displaced will  detract from the
agency's primary responsibility of helping refugees in countries of  asylum.
Even  so, UNHCR  admits that  it is  not  always  reasonable or  possible to
distinguish  between   refugees  and   the  internally   displaced  in   its
operations.  The General Assembly has called upon the agency to continue  to
undertake protection and assistance activities for the internally  displaced
and has further recognized the importance  of UNHCR's close cooperation with
both the representative and ICRC on these issues.

64.   International Committee  of the  Red Cross.   Of all  the institutions
dealing with internally displaced persons, ICRC - an agency not part of  the
United Nations system - has the clearest mandate to provide both  assistance
and protection to  the internally displaced, at least  in so far as they are
civilian victims  of  armed  conflict.   In such  instances,  ICRC seeks  to
ensure that  the Geneva Conventions  of 12 August  1949 are  applied.  Among
ICRC's organizational strengths is that it  extends protection to both sides
in conflict situations  and seeks to address the  needs of those beyond  the
reach  of other  humanitarian organizations.    At the  same time,  not  all
States allow  entry  to the  ICRC or  admit that  a non-international  armed
conflict is taking place  on their territory.   Moreover, ICRC is  sometimes
precluded  from  involvement when  internal  displacement  is  unrelated  to
warfare.  Although ICRC's  independence sometimes complicates its ability to
collaborate with  other agencies, in recent  years ICRC  has found effective
ways  of working  in closer  consultation  with  United Nations  agencies in
humanitarian emergency situations.

65.   United Nations Development Programme.   In  most emergency situations,
the UNDP resident representatives serve as  the resident coordinators of the
United Nations  system.   As resident  coordinators, they  are charged  with
"coordinating   assistance  for  internally  displaced   persons"  in  close
cooperation with  Governments, donors  and  United Nations  agencies in  the
field  (General Assembly resolution  44/136).   When it  comes to addressing
protection  issues,  many  resident  coordinators  fear  that  raising  such
concerns could jeopardize  their principal role as resident  representatives
closely cooperating with  Governments on development programmes.   Moreover,
a number of  Governments have  objected to the  weaving of humanitarian  and
human rights issues into  development themes. 13/ At the same time, more and
more resident  coordinators are finding that  the delivery  of assistance is
often interlinked  with protection problems and that human rights protection
issues are within  the ambit of all  United Nations activities according  to
the Charter.   When  resident coordinators are  not in a  position to  raise
protection  issues,  they  should be  expected  to  develop  closer  working
relationships  with those  who  can.    In  the  specific case  of  internal
displacement, they  should  be  expected to  contact the  representative  on
internally displaced persons and the  Inter-Agency Task Force  on Internally
Displaced  Persons.  The UNDP Administrator has  shown considerable interest
in the work  of the representative  and a cooperative relationship  with the
resident coordinators  has begun  which promises  to facilitate the  mandate

66.   United Nations Children's  Fund.  UNICEF  has become  involved in many
situations  of  internal displacement  through its  efforts  to improve  the
lives of  women and children by  providing services in  the areas of  health
care, education, nutrition and sanitation.   While its primary concerns  are
relief  and development,  it  has addressed  protection  problems  when they
affect  the  delivery  of  assistance  by  securing  agreement  for   relief
corridors, such  as Operation  Lifeline Sudan,  or by mounting  cross-border
operations.   UNICEF also  was a  leading advocate of the  Convention on the
Rights of  the Child  and could, on  the basis of  the Convention,  exercise
increased authority in the  area of child protection.   In 1995,  UNICEF put
forward  a set of principles  to guide all agencies  in assisting internally
displaced persons, which includes the "protection  of IDPs from human rights

67.   World  Food Programme.    Internally  displaced persons  represent the
largest category of beneficiaries of World  Food Programme (WFP) relief aid,
or about 35 per cent of the 57 million persons WFP  assists.  WFP's food aid
also  supports  return, reintegration  and  development  projects  in  which
internally displaced  persons are  involved.   Although protection  concerns
fall outside its mandate, it does negotiate access  and safe passage for its
food and  personnel and  has  also  lodged protests;  however, it  turns  to
others to intercede.    

68.   World Health  Organization.  In  monitoring the  health situation  and
health  care delivery  systems in  member  States,  WHO becomes  involved in
situations  of  internal   displacement  when  health  services  have   been
disrupted,  or  when  internally  displaced  persons  are  identified  as  a
"special" group, requiring the expertise of WHO for  the provision of health
services.   Only  in  recent years  has  WHO become  involved  in  emergency
situations.   In 1991,  it  developed an  emergency preparedness  programme,
Health  and  Development for  Displaced  Persons  (HEDIP),  and  in 1993  it
reorganized  its  Division  of  Emergencies  and  Humanitarian  Action.  Its
Executive Board and the World Health Assembly  have approved its assuming  a
more active  role  in  addressing emergency  situations and  in  undertaking
initiatives to benefit internally displaced and other populations.

69.    International   Organization  for  Migration.    IOM's   Constitution
specifically  mandates it  to  provide migration  assistance  to  "displaced
persons",  including those  internally and  externally displaced,  with  the
consent of the  State concerned.  Its  activities include the organizing  of
transport,   evacuations   and   returns,  analysis   of   migratory  flows,
development  of population  information  systems and  technical  assistance.
More recently, it has  begun to assist with the return and reintegration  of
displaced  persons,  for  instance  in  Peru.     For  IOM,  protection  and
assistance are  closely linked  but some  of the  activities IOM  undertakes
raise protection concerns  that need to be addressed  both by IOM and  other
organizations that  engage in such work.   For  example, transporting people
back to war-torn countries  or the movement  of ethnic groups from one  area
of a  country to  another raises  concerns about  whether the  movements are
voluntary  and whether  the  conditions  are sufficiently  safe  to  warrant
return.   While IOM  is bound  by a number of  constitutional safeguards and
guidelines, attention should be given to increased collaborative  monitoring
with human  rights bodies to ensure  effective protection  during the return
and  resettlement  process. Similarly,  additional  criteria  and guidelines
should be considered.

70.  United Nations  High Commissioner for Human Rights.  The United Nations
High Commissioner for Human Rights, with  a general mandate for  prevention,
promotion and protection of  human rights, can lend authority and support to
efforts to  provide improved protection to  the internally  displaced and is
in a  position  to raise  specific cases  of  internal  displacement in  his
dialogues with Governments. In particular,  he has actively  participated in
preparations for the upcoming  regional conference to  address the  problems
of refugees, displaced persons, and other forms of involuntary  displacement
of returnees in the countries  of the Commonwealth of the Independent States
(CIS) and relevant neighbouring States. He  has indicated a strong  interest
in  ensuring that the  recommendations made  by representatives  and special
rapporteurs of  the Commission  are carried out,  and in  particular he  has
expressed  his  support  for  the  work  of  the  representative.  The  High
Commissioner has given  special importance  to strengthening the ability  of
the Centre  for Human Rights  and the Commission  to react  rapidly to human
rights  emergencies.  Under  his authority,  field officers  are now dealing
with  human rights  issues of  internal  displacement in  Rwanda,  Cambodia,
Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Burundi. 

71.   Department of  Humanitarian  Affairs.   The  need for  more  effective
coordination of humanitarian assistance led to the  creation in 1991 of  the
post  of  Emergency   Relief  Coordinator  (or  Under-Secretary-General  for
Humanitarian  Affairs),  and subsequently  the  Department  of  Humanitarian
Affairs.    The  Department's  responsibilities  include  determining  which

humanitarian  emergencies  require   coordination  by  the  United  Nations,
assigning  responsibility  to  agencies  in the  field,  and  coordinating a
consolidated appeals process to mobilize funds.  As noted above, the  Under-
Secretary-General for  Humanitarian Affairs also  retains a  direct link  to
the  field through resident coordinators who report to him when dealing with
humanitarian  issues.    One  of  the more  important  roles  of the  Under-
Secretary-General is  to act  as the  United Nations  system's advocate  for
humanitarian  causes,   including  situations   of  internal   displacement.
Although  the Department  has  no  protection responsibilities  per  se,  it
cannot effectively  coordinate emergency assistance  or negotiate access  to
emergency   areas   without   acknowledging  the   integral   link   between
humanitarian assistance and protection. 

B.  Strengthening collaborative arrangements

72.    Mobilizing and  coordinating  existing  capacities  in  a timely  and
effective manner  would contribute to meeting  more adequately  the needs of
internally  displaced  populations.    In  an   effort  to  develop  a  more
coordinated  response  to   the  assistance  and  protection  needs  of  the
internally  displaced,  the   Inter-Agency  Standing  Committee  (IASC)   in
December 1994  designated the Emergency  Relief Coordinator  as the  central
reference point  within the  United Nations  system to  review requests  for
assistance and  protection on  actual or  developing situations of  internal
displacement that  require a coordinated  response.  This  had been  a major
recommendation  of  the   representative  in  the  comprehensive  study   he
submitted to the  Commission on Human  Rights in  1993 and  is an  important
first step towards  the development  of a more  coherent system for  dealing
with  internally  displaced  populations.    IASC  also  reconstituted   and
approved new terms of reference for its  Task Force on Internally  Displaced
Persons, in which the representative participates.  The Task  Force has been
authorized, inter alia, to review current  situations of potential or actual
internal displacement,  assess the  assistance and  protection needs of  the
affected populations,  and recommend  a  division of  labour among  relevant
institutions and organizations  to address those  needs.   Only if the  Task
Force cannot  reach a consensus  will the issue  be brought to  IASC or  its
working group for decision.  At the field level, a letter dated 31 July 1995
from  the  Emergency Relief  Coordinator  assigned  responsibility  for  in-
country coordination to the Disaster Management  Team headed by the resident
representative/coordinator, or any other mechanism established to deal  with
a specific  humanitarian crisis.  Taken  together, these  steps at improving
coordination, if  effectively implemented, could markedly improve the way in
which the needs of internally displaced persons are addressed.

C.  Comprehensive approach to assistance and protection

73.    Internally  displaced  persons  generally  have  both  assistance and
protection needs but, as noted above,  international efforts on their behalf
have focused largely on providing relief.   In emergency situations,  inter-
agency needs  assessments often do  not address  the physical safety  of the
affected population.  Those sent  to assess  emergency situations  generally
have expertise in food distribution, nutrition,  health and shelter, but not
in  how to  deal  with the  human  rights  and  protection problems  of  the
affected population. 

74.  In recognition of the need for greater integration of human rights  and
humanitarian concerns into the  assistance activities of  its members,  IASC
decided in  December 1994  to invite  the representative  of the  Secretary-
General  and the  United Nations High  Commissioner for Human  Rights to its
meetings  whenever  issues   relating  to  their  respective  mandates   are
discussed.  Significant  progress is  being  made  towards  a  comprehensive
approach that addresses both protection and assistance concerns. 

75.    More  extensive  discussions  are  needed, however,  by  humanitarian
agencies  and  human rights  organizations  to  explore  the  best means  of

providing protection in  emergency situations of which internally  displaced
persons are a  part.  In places like Rwanda and Bosnia  and Herzegovina, the
difficulty of protecting human rights has been made  painfully apparent.  It
is important  that relief  and development  agencies explore  the extent  to
which they  can become more involved  in addressing  the protection problems
that affect the delivery of assistance  and that human rights  organizations
expand their operational capacity to do so.

D.  Expanded role for human rights bodies

76.  The 1993 World Conference on Human  Rights emphasized the importance of
United Nations human rights bodies giving  special attention to the issue of
internal  displacement.    Accordingly, the  Centre  for  Human  Rights  has
pledged, subject to the  availability of resources, to assume a more  active
role in addressing the  root causes and  effects of displacement as well  as
the provision of effective protection and  assistance to displaced  persons.

77.  Strengthening the international presence  in locations where there  are
protection problems is a  crucial way for human rights bodies to  contribute
to the better protection  of the internally displaced.   As experience in El
Salvador, the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda  has shown, human rights officers
can  play  an   important  role  in  collecting  information,   ascertaining
protection  needs, contacting  local authorities about  protection problems,
alerting Governments and  the international community to problems  requiring
attention,  and assisting  in the  actual  return  process.   With increased
operational  experience and  training, human rights bodies,  in time, should
be better able to address the shortcomings in the current system of  on-the-
ground  protection.   In  addition,  through  its technical  assistance  and
advisory  services  programme,  the  Centre  for  Human  Rights  could  help
strengthen national  institutions for  human rights  protection and  support
the creation of ombudspersons and other  remedies to protect the  internally
displaced.  The Centre  could also provide training  in human rights law and
practice to  the staff of humanitarian  organizations and  to United Nations
peace-keeping  forces  so  that  they  are  better  prepared  to  deal  with
internally displaced persons.  

E.  Options for institutional reform

78.  The growing willingness on the part  of the international community  to
assume  increased responsibility  for the  internally displaced  should  not
obscure  the  fact  that  many  situations   of  internal  displacement   go
unaddressed or are insufficiently addressed by  the United Nations system in
the absence of an organization, or  collection of organizations, mandated to
address  the assistance  and protection  needs of  the internally displaced.
Neither the political will nor the resources, however, exist at the  present
time to support the  creation of a new agency responsible for the internally
displaced.  It is pointed out,  moreover, that internally displaced  persons
have needs  spanning the entire  range of  United Nations agencies  and that
the creation of a new agency would  risk duplicating existing resources  and

79.   An alternative to the creation of a new agency would be to enlarge the
mandate of an existing  one to include  the protection and assistance  needs
of  the  internally  displaced.     Legally  and  operationally,  UNHCR  has
generally been  considered the best equipped  institution to  deal with this
issue.   The United  Nations High  Commissioner for  Refugees, however,  has
pointed  out   that  the   magnitude  of   the  problem   far  exceeds   the
organization's  capacity.    UNHCR   has  clearly  defined  the  extent  and
conditions  under which it has  a mandate to  undertake activities on behalf
of  the internally displaced  and has  called for  a collaborative approach.

80.  If the  option of a system-wide approach is to be supported, however, a

first  and  most  important  step  must  be  the creation  of  an  effective
coordinating mechanism to  assign responsibility when a serious situation of
internal  displacement  arises  and  ensure  that  both  the  protection and
assistance needs  of  the internally  displaced  are  adequately met.    The
recent  designation by the  IASC of the Emergency  Relief Coordinator as the
central  reference   point  for  receipt  of  requests  for  assistance  and
protection  and  the  reconstitution  of  the   Task  Force  on  IDPs  under
strengthened terms of reference could lead  to a more effective  coordinated
response.   Since these arrangements  have only recently been  put in place,
it is too early  to assess how  effective the new system will be  or whether
other options would prove more effective.   

F.  The role of the mandate

81.     Within  the   current  system-wide   approach,  the   role  of   the
representative  is to  act  as  a link  and  a catalyst  among  the  various
organizations of  the United  Nations involved with  policy formulation  and
operational  programmes as  regards the  internally displaced.   Through his
participation in the  Standing Committee and the Task  Force, he can act  as
an advocate for the displaced and seek to  ensure that protection and  human
rights criteria  are sufficiently understood and  taken into  account in the
planning and execution of  activities in favour of displaced persons.  Since
protection  does  not  come  within  the  mandate  of  the  Emergency Relief
Coordinator as now defined, the mandate of the  representative can be viewed
as a complementary one with respect to the internally displaced. 

82.  For the representative to  carry out his responsibilities  effectively,
however, his capacity needs to be strengthened.  As has already been  noted,
there is a considerable  gap between the aspirations  of the mandate  of the
representative  and  his  capacity  to  pursue  them.    As  a  result,  the
representative has  turned to  persons and institutions  outside the  United
Nations  system  to  assist  in  discharging  the  responsibilities  of  the
mandate.      Notwithstanding   their   important  assistance,   there   are
nevertheless steps  that should be taken  within the  United Nations system.
Additional resources and staff  are needed to increase  the number of  fact-
finding   and   follow-up  missions   that   can   be  undertaken   by   the
representative, his  staff, or expert volunteers.   The  deployment of field
officers  in  areas  where  there  are  substantial  numbers  of  internally
displaced persons would also serve the  mandate significantly.  In addition,
it would  be useful to have a  senior staff member to assist in managing the
affairs of  the mandate and play a role in  inter-agency decision-making and
in   representation  at  an   appropriate  level   at  meetings.    Adequate
administrative support and  secretarial assistance are  also needed.   These
are minimal but crucial services that could make  a major difference in  the
effectiveness of the mandate. 


83.  The global nature of internal displacement  makes it essential that the
international  community  rely  on  initiatives  not  only  within but  also
outside  the  United  Nations  system  to  ensure  that  the  needs  of  the
internally  displaced   are  adequately   met.     In  particular,   greater
collaboration  is  needed  on the  part of  the  United Nations  system with
regional institutions and with NGOs, both  of which are playing increasingly
important   roles   in   dealing   with   internal   displacement.       The
representative's  report  to the  Commission  described  important  regional
developments, especially in the  Americas (E/CN.4/1995/50, paras.  213-242).
Since  then, new initiatives have  been undertaken in Africa, the Arab world
and Europe of which a brief summary follows.

84.   The  plan  of action  of  the  Regional  Conference on  Assistance  to
Refugees, Returnees  and Displaced Persons in  the Great  Lakes Region, held
at  Bujumbura in February 1995 under  the auspices of the OAU and UNHCR, set
forth  principles for  the voluntary  repatriation of  internally  displaced

persons to  their home areas and  recommended steps  Governments should take
to  create conditions  conducive to  the  voluntary  return of  refugees and
internally displaced  persons.   More recently,  in August  1995 a  Regional
Conference on the Legal Status of Refugee and Internally Displaced Women  in
Africa,  sponsored by OAU,  UNHCR, the  United Nations  Development Fund for
Women  (UNIFEM) and  the Economic  Commission for  Africa (ECA) and  held at
Addis Ababa, called for the strengthening  of the legal protections afforded
to displaced  women  and for  enhanced  institutional  arrangements for  the
protection and promotion of their rights. 

 85.    In  June  1995,  a Regional  Seminar  on  Internal  Displacement  of
Populations in Arab  Countries, Human Rights and International  Humanitarian
Law,  was held  at Tripoli with the  support of IOM, UNFPA,  UNHCR and ICRC.
The conference  adopted several  recommendations which,  inter alia,  called
upon Arab States  which have not yet  ratified the 1951 Convention  relating
to  the  Status  of  Refugees and  its  1967  Protocol as  well  as  the two
Protocols Additional to the  Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949 to do  so,
proposed  the study  of complementary  instruments  for the  protection  and
assistance  of displaced persons  in the  region, and  recommended that each
State  in the  region establish  a  ministry  responsible for  assisting its
nationals to remain in their communities by removing the possible causes  of
their  displacement,  namely  inadequate  levels  of  public  services   and

86.   Regarding  Europe, the  representative  and  the United  Nations  High
Commissioner for Human Rights have participated  in the preparations for the
CIS   conference  scheduled  for   1996.     Earlier,  in   July  1994,  the
Parliamentary  Assembly  of the  Conference on  Security and  Cooperation in
Europe (CSCE,  now called the Organization  for Security  and Cooperation in
Europe - OSCE) adopted the Vienna Declaration  in which it recommended  that
when preventive efforts fail, the organization should  "ensure protection of
the  forcibly displaced"  and "seek  durable long-term  solutions for  their
well-being".   Moreover, the  OSCE High Commissioner on  National Minorities
is  an important mechanism  of early  warning and  preventive diplomacy with
the  aim  of  avoiding  minority  conflicts,   which  regularly  result   in

87.   Regional initiatives should  be encouraged and expanded since they can
prove a powerful stimulus for  addressing problems of internal displacement.
In Asia,  it would  be useful  if the  issue of  internal displacement  were
included  in the agenda  of regional  organizations like  the Association of
South-East Asian Nations (ASEAN) and in meetings organized in  the region by
the  Centre   for  Human   Rights.     The   representative  has   initiated
consultations aimed at  organizing a seminar  and stimulating  activities on
internal displacement in South-East Asia.

88.   In  his  reports  to the  Commission  and the  General  Assembly,  the
representative has drawn particular attention  to the important  role played
by   non-governmental  organizations   in  assisting   and  protecting   the
internally displaced.   Frequently,  NGOs are  in more  direct contact  with
displaced  populations  and   have  closer  relationships  with  the   local
authorities  than do  international agencies  which  tend  to work  with the
central Government.   Often,  they maintain  a  presence when  international
agencies are not yet present or have withdrawn  for security reasons, and as
a result  may  be  the  only avenue  for  the  provision of  protection  and
assistance  to  the   internally  displaced.     Further,  they  are   often
responsible for opening up "humanitarian spaces"  which in many places  have
paved the way for United Nations operations.

89.   Coordination between local and  international NGOs,  and between NGOs,
the  representative  and   the  international  community  is  important   to
promoting  partnerships  on   behalf  of  the   internally  displaced.     A
willingness  to  forge  such  links  was  evident  in  the  June  1994  Oslo
Declaration and Plan of  Action adopted by NGOs and UNHCR at the Partnership
in Action (PARinAC) Conference.


90.  Clearly, the scope and intensity of  internal displacement warrants the
development  of  a  global  strategy  for  the  more  effective  protection,
assistance, reintegration  and  development  of  the  internally  displaced.
During  the  representative's  country missions  and  numerous consultations
with agencies  and experts,  a  number  of elements  of this  strategy  have
become evident.

A.  Information strategies

91.  Knowing exactly the number  of internally displaced persons, country by
country, is  a strategically  important but  very difficult  question.   The
frequent  lack of  adequate presence  in  areas  where there  are internally
displaced  populations, combined  with  insufficient understanding  of  what
internal  displacement  means, has  often  made  it  difficult  to know  the
numbers of internally  displaced populations and their specific  assistance,
protection and development needs.  Conceptual  and technical issues, such as
the duration  of displacement and whether people should still  be counted as
displaced when  they have  found alternative  settlements, also  need to  be
resolved.    Since there  is  no  one  institution  charged with  collecting
information  about internally  displaced  persons, there  is  no  consistent
methodology applied by the various groups collecting the data.

92.  The Norwegian Refugee Council's survey found that most agencies do  not
establish  independently the  number of  internally displaced  persons in  a
given country.  For  the most part,  they draw upon UNHCR statistics,  which
often rely heavily on government  figures, which may in  turn be manipulated
on political or economic grounds. 

93.    An  accurate  assessment  of   the  needs  of  internally   displaced
populations  is a prerequisite  for any  effective attempt  to address them.
Such  assessments  require  a  ground-level  capacity  and  the  pooling  of
information provided by governmental and non-governmental  sources.  In some
regions, NGOs have been called upon  by intergovernmental agencies to  carry
out needs assessments. 16/  In other areas, however,  only a fraction of the
local NGOs have  sufficient operational  capacity and expertise required  by
United  Nations  agencies  for  assessment  operations.    The  trend  is to
establish more  and more  institutional linkages  between the  international
and the  local levels for assessment  purposes, with  national, regional and
international   NGOs  as   important  components.     The   development   of
methodologies  for  collecting  information  and  making  needs  assessments
should be  an important  part of the  global strategy for  dealing with  the
internally displaced.

B.  Preventive strategies

94.  If the  increasing problem of internal displacement is to be  contained
and  reduced,  preventive  strategies are  critical.   United  Nations human
rights  bodies have an  important role  to play in this  regard.  Preventive
measures currently  relied  upon include  an  early  warning system,  urgent
appeals  of thematic  and country  rapporteurs of  the Commission,  dialogue
with  Governments,  machinery for  the  protection  of minorities,  and  the
deployment of  human rights  field officers.  Commission reports  addressing
the  root causes  of mass  exoduses  also  exemplify efforts  at prevention.
Human  rights treaty  bodies,  moreover,  have  been  requested  to  examine
measures they  might take  to prevent  human rights  violations and  several
have adopted  emergency procedures and  undertaken missions to countries for
preventive purposes.    The  establishment of  the mandate  of  the post  of
United Nations  High Commissioner  for Human  Rights  should add  particular
momentum to  the development of preventive  strategies.   Human rights field
officers deployed under his auspices could  play a valuable preventive role.
All these measures, however, are at an early stage of development and  human
rights  bodies  should  be  encouraged  to  increase  their  capacities  for


95.   Mechanisms for  minority protection  also need  to be  strengthened as
many  displaced  persons  are  members  of  minority  groups  who  have been
subjected to forcible expulsion, resettlement and other persecution  because
of their ethnic  or other origin.   Recent promising initiatives include the
adoption by the United  Nations of the Declaration  on the Rights of Persons
Belonging  to National or  Ethnic, Religious  and Linguistic  Minorities and
the  establishment  of a  working  group  by  the  Subcommission to  develop
strategies for minority protection and to prevent conflict. 

96.    The  reports  of  the  representative on  his  country  missions have
emphasized  the importance  of  supporting preventive  techniques  aimed  at
empowering  the population  at the  grass-roots  level.   Very  often, local
communities have built up effective strategies  for mitigating the impact of
displacement.  The  coping strategies that displaced populations  themselves
have  developed  should be  carefully  examined  by  NGOs and  international
agencies  since such  mechanisms are  essential elements  of prevention  and

97.  Irrespective of  the level at which preventive strategies are  pursued,
efforts must  be made  to ensure  that protecting  and assisting  internally
displaced persons do not  interfere with their  freedom of movement.   There
is a need  to reconcile strategies  that encourage  people to remain  within
their own countries with  those that safeguard  the right to leave and  seek
asylum from  persecution.   Under  no  circumstances  should the  desire  to
forestall  large-scale   population  displacements   take  precedence   over
assuring the long-term security of displaced populations.

C.  Addressing root causes

98.   Unless root causes are  addressed and political solutions to conflicts
found, there  can  be  no  durable remedies  to  most problems  of  internal
displacement.   Humanitarian assistance  and the  promotion of  human rights
cannot  become substitutes  for broader  political  efforts to  advance  the
cause  of  peace,   security  and  stability  in   a  country.    When   the
humanitarian, human rights,  political and security dimensions of  emergency
situations  are  dealt  with  simultaneously,  a  climate  of  confidence is
created which  in turn positively affects  the situation  for the internally
displaced.  Strategies  for protecting the internally displaced should  seek
to promote  greater coordination among the political, humanitarian and human
rights  bodies  of  the  United  Nations   in  order  to  promote   mutually
reinforcing  solutions  to  crises  of  internal  displacement  and  thereby
contribute to the cause of peace and security.

D.  Development strategies

99.   In  emergency  situations, relief  agencies have  tended  to focus  on
meeting  short-term   needs  rather  than  on  developing  skills  that  can
contribute  to long-term solutions.   Development  agencies, for their part,
have not  always been willing  or able  to provide  assistance for  uprooted
persons,  especially when  recipient Governments  are reluctant  to  include
refugees or displaced persons in the  regular development aid provided them.
In many cases,  community-based programmes, which find greater response from
local  and  national  authorities,  are   an  effective  way   of  providing
assistance in situations where the local community is equally in need.

100.   The  Programme of Action  adopted by the  International Conference on
Population and  Development (Cairo, 1994)  recommended that measures  should
be  taken  to  ensure  that  internally   displaced  persons  receive  basic
education, employment  opportunities, vocational training  as well as  other
basic services, and  that Governments, international organizations and  NGOs
strengthen development assistance  for internally displaced persons so  that
they can return to  their places of origin.  It is essential that relief and

development agencies,  together with  international financial  institutions,
develop  strategies and  programmes  for the  internally displaced,  many of
whom  possess skills and work experience and whose  survival would be better
assured  through  income-generating and  development  projects than  through
relief  assistance. Consideration  should further  be given  to  introducing
regional processes, such  as CIREFCA,  17/ into appropriate  areas so as  to
involve Governments, NGOs  and development agencies in integrating  uprooted
persons into national development plans. 

E.  Strategies for women and children

101.   Although most  internally displaced  persons are  women and children,
little  attention has  been paid  to  documenting  the particular  abuses to
which they have been subjected or  developing strategies for remedying their
situation.   In  his  1995  report to  the Commission  on Human  Rights, the
representative  made several  recommendations to  enhance the  situation  of
internally displaced  women and children.   In particular, agencies  working
with the internally displaced should consider,  inter alia:  monitoring  the
situation of  women and children in  accordance with  UNHCR's Guidelines for
the Protection  of Refugee Women  and its Guidelines  for the Protection  of
Refugee Children; documenting  violations and interceding with the  relevant
authorities  on  behalf  of  the  women  and  children  concerned;  offering
counselling  services,  such as  have  been  made  available  in the  former
Yugoslavia  where women  have  suffered  sexual violence;  and ensuring  the
equitable distribution of  food and supplies  and the  better representation
of  displaced  women  in  camp  administration  and  decision-making.     In
addition, the need  of women heads of household to become economically self-
supporting in order  to provide for their families  should be the object  of
special training and income-generating programmes and strategies.
  102.   A  great  deal  more  attention,  however,  is  needed  to  develop
strategies for addressing the protection and  development needs of women and
children in  situations of  internal displacement.   While  it is  important
that  programmes of  UNICEF,  UNIFEM  and NGOs  seek to  reduce  the special
vulnerabilities of  women and  children, additional  strategies are  needed.
The aforementioned  Addis Ababa  conference on refugee  and displaced  women
recommended  the enunciation  of standards specific to  the particular needs
of displaced  women.  The Programme  of Action adopted  by the World  Summit
for Social  Development (Copenhagen,  1995) included  among its  recommended
responses to the needs  of displaced persons a call to ensure that displaced
women  are  involved  in  the  planning  and  implementation  of  assistance
activities.   The  Fourth  World Conference  on Women,  held  at  Beijing in
September 1995,  has  also  made  specific recommendations  with  regard  to
increasing protection  and assistance  for internally  displaced women.  The
regional consultation in connection  with the study  on the impact of  armed
conflicts on  children, being  undertaken by  the expert  Ms. Graca  Machel,
held  at  Addis  Ababa  in  1995,  made  several  important  recommendations
specific to  the protection  of children  in situations  of armed  conflict.
Taken  together, these  initiatives  should prove  important  in  developing
programmes for  the enhancement  of the protection  of internally  displaced
women and children.


103.  As  a general observation,  it should  be noted  that both within  and
outside  the United  Nations system,  intergovernmental, regional  and  non-
governmental bodies are actively exploring and developing  new approaches to
increasing  assistance and  protection for  the internally  displaced.   The
challenge,  however,  far exceeds  the  international community's  response,
which still remains largely ad hoc and grossly inadequate.

104.    Since the  Commission on  Human  Rights  began consideration  of the
subject  in 1992, a great deal has become known  about the global problem of
internal  displacement.   But a lot more  needs to be learned:   the numbers
involved world wide,  their geographical distribution, their precise  needs,

how they are being met and  by whom, the status of  the internally displaced
in international  law, and  the adequacy  of the  coverage through  existing
international   institutional   arrangements   for   their  protection   and
assistance.  Such in-depth  and comprehensive knowledge of the problem is  a
necessary   prerequisite   for  the   development   of   appropriate  norms,
instruments and  strategies of international  protection and assistance  for
the internally displaced.

105.   At  the  request of  the Secretary-General,  and  with  the financial
support   of  several  Governments,   foundations  and  the  Office  of  the
Secretary-General,  the representative,  in cooperation with  several highly
accredited  research  institutions, individual  scholars,  and  human rights
experts has  undertaken a major research  project into these  aspects of the
problem,  including about a  dozen representative  case studies.   The study
not only aims at deepening understanding of the  problem, but also at making
recommendations for an appropriate  legal and institutional response to meet
the  protection,  assistance   and  development  needs  of  the   internally
displaced.    Apart  from  being  a  useful  source  of information  to  the
international community, the findings of the  study are likely to strengthen
and  facilitate the  capacity  of the  mandate to  foster  a  more concerted
international response to this global crisis.

106.     Meanwhile,  it  should  be   emphasized  that   in  the  prevailing
international  climate,  the  most  effective  way  of  conceptualizing  and
discharging the  responsibilities  of the  mandate is  to  see  his role  as
catalytic.  While this can be conceived broadly to entail raising  awareness
of  the problem  internationally, advocating  the  cause of  the  internally
displaced  and encouraging  complementary  cooperation among  all  pertinent
organizations,  governmental and  non-governmental,  it is  most effectively
applied  in the context  of country missions.   These  missions always begin
with extensive  discussions with  government leaders,  officials responsible
for the displaced,  representatives of United Nations agencies operating  in
the  country,  human  rights  and  humanitarian  organizations,  and   local
community  leaders.  These  are then  followed by extensive  field visits to
displaced populations in camps, villages, and  urban centres.  These  visits
are  also  accompanied  by  discussions  with  military  commanders,   civil
government authorities and  field representatives of humanitarian  agencies.
Following the  field  visits  an extensive  process of  debriefing  involves
further  dialogue with  government authorities  and representatives  of  the
international  community, including ambassadors or  representatives of donor
countries.    Often, these  activities  are  widely  covered  by the  media,
thereby  focusing  public  attention  on  the  displacement  crisis  in  the
country.  Sometimes, as  a result of  the dialogue at all levels,  agreement
or understanding  is reached  on specific  measures to be  taken to  enhance
protection  and assistance  for the  internally displaced.   Country  visits
therefore constitute  one of  the pillars  of  the mandate  which should  be
encouraged and supported.

107.  While the mandate has evolved into a more focused catalytic role,  the
crisis  of  internal   displacement  remains  a  major  challenge  for   the
international community,  one that  urgently calls for more  effective legal
and  institutional  arrangements  to   provide  appropriate,   comprehensive
protection,  assistance and development for internally displaced populations
world  wide.    The  in-depth  study  undertaken  by  the  representative in
collaboration  with a  wide circle  of research institutions  and individual
scholars  and  others  with  pertinent expertise  aims  at  facilitating the
attainment of this objective.


  1/  Norwegian  Refugee Council "Institutional arrangements for  internally
displaced persons:  the ground level experience" (1995), p. 14.

  2/  UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees (1993), p. 1.

  3/    Supplement  to   An  Agenda  for  Peace:    position  paper  of  the
SecretaryGeneral on the occasion of the  fiftieth anniversary of the  United
Nations (A/50/60-S/1995/1), 25 January 1995.

  4/    "Displacement or  development:   bridging the  gap", address  by the
United   Nations   High    Commissioner   for   Refugees   to   the    World
Bank/International Monetary Fund, Washington, D.C., 8 June 1994.
    5/   Dr.  Michael Toole,  Centers  for  Disease Control,  Department  of
Health and  Human Services,  testimony before  the United  States Senate,  3
April  1990,  as quoted  in  "Internally  displaced  women  and children  in
Africa", Refugee Policy Group, Washington, D.C., February 1992.

  6/   In a letter dated 12 April 1995, the Government of Sri Lanka provided
the representative with comments on the  findings contained in his  reports.
In his reply  of 4 May 1995,  the representative expressed his  appreciation
for the Government's clarification of several points raised in the reports.

  7/   ICRC,  "Sri  Lanka:    displaced  civilians killed  in  air  strike",
communication to the press No. 95/30, 11 July 1995.

  8/   UNHCR's  Operational  Experience with  Internally  Displaced  Persons
(September 1994).   See also the comprehensive study prepared by Mr. Francis
Deng, representative  of the  Secretary-General on the  human rights  issues
related to internally displaced persons (E/CN.4/1993/35, annex, para. 50).

  9/  "Displaced persons are persons who have been obliged to abandon  their
homes or usual economic activities because  their lives, security or freedom
have  been endangered  by generalized violence, massive  violations of human
rights,  an  ongoing conflict  or  other  circumstances  which  have or  are
seriously disturbing  the public order, but  who have  remained within their
own countries".  Cited in the comprehensive study, op. cit., para. 39.

  10/  Cited in E/CN.4/1995/50/Add.1, para. 12.

  11/   The representative received a  report from the  Refugee Policy Group
entitled  "Improving  institutional  arrangements  for internally  displaced
persons", which was utilized for this section of his report.

  12/  See UNHCR's Operational Experience, op. cit.

  13/  Field  representation of the United  Nations system organization:   a
more  unitary  approach:    note  by  the  Secretary-General  (A/49/133  and
Add.1E/1994/49 and Add.1).

  14/   "Plan  of  activities  of  the  Centre  for  Human  Rights  for  the
implementation  of the  Vienna Declaration  and Programme of  Action", annex
II, Geneva, 10 November 1993 (internal document).

  15/  See Report  of the forty-fifth session  of the Executive Committee of
the High Commissioner's Programme (A/AC.96/839), 11 October 1994.

  16/  In Central  America and the  Andean region, in particular, there  are
many  examples of efforts  to institutionalize  a ground-level  capacity for
assessment.  UNHCR, for  example, asked the Andean Commission of Jurists  to
carry  out  an  assessment  and  analysis   of  the  situation  of  internal
displacement in Peru, and  it also recently asked international NGOs and the
Permanent Consultation for Internally Displaced  Persons in the  Americas to
do the same in Guatemala.
    17/   The  1989 International  Conference on  Central American  Refugees
(CIREFCA) brought  together Governments, donors, intergovernmental agencies,
NGOs  and  representatives  of   the  displaced,  who  jointly  developed  a
comprehensive plan for  assisting refugees, displaced persons and  returnees
and  integrating them  into  the  development programmes  of  the  countries



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