United Nations


General Assembly

Distr. GENERAL  

24 October 1996



General Assembly
Fifty-first session
Agenda item 110 (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
Secretary-General 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.


              Report on internally displaced persons, prepared by the
              representative of the Secretary-General, in accordance
              with Commission on Human Rights resolution 1995/57 and
                 Economic and Social Council decision 1995/273

1.   Since the appointment of the representative of the Secretary-
General on internally displaced persons in 1992, his activities have
been documented in a series of substantive reports to the General
Assembly and to the Commission on Human Rights.  The latest
comprehensive report was submitted to the Commission at its fifty-
second session in March 1996 (E/CN.4/1996/52 and Add.1 and 2).  To
avoid unnecessary repetition, the representative deems it more
appropriate to submit to the General Assembly a brief update, placing
emphasis on the latest developments, and to submit to the Assembly his
report on Tajikistan, where he undertook his most recent mission in
early June 1996.

2.   Over the past year, the representative has continued to be
actively engaged in three main areas of work.  The first is the
development of an appropriate normative framework for meeting the
needs of the internally displaced.  The second area is the promotion
of effective institutional arrangements for meeting the challenges of
protecting and assisting the internally displaced.  The third one is
the undertaking of visits to countries with serious problems of
internal displacement in order to promote dialogue with Governments
and other actors involved in addressing the needs of the internally
displaced, drawing lessons from previous experiences, and seeking to
improve conditions on the ground.

3.   With respect to the normative framework, the representative is
considering how to address the weaknesses and gaps in international
law that undermine coverage for the internally displaced.  After
several years of intensive work on the part of academic institutions
and experts, a compilation and analysis of legal norms was prepared
and submitted by the representative to the Commission in 1996
(E/CN.4/1996/52/Add.2).  The compilation and analysis examined the
relevant provisions of international human rights law, humanitarian
law and refugee law by analogy, and their applicability to the
protection and assistance needs of the internally displaced.  The
compilation and analysis confirms that, while existing law provides
substantial coverage for internally displaced persons, there are
significant areas in which it fails to provide adequate protection and
which require remedy through restatement of existing law and
clarification of its provisions in one document.  This would serve
several useful purposes.  It would consolidate in one place existing
norms that at present are too dispersed and diffuse to be effective. 
It would also call attention to the need for the better implementation
of existing norms and assist the work of Governments, international
organizations and non-governmental organizations in the field in
protecting and promoting the rights of internally displaced persons. 
In addition, it would serve the educational purpose of increasing
international awareness of the situation of the internally displaced.

4.   The Commission on Human Rights, at its fifty-second session,
called for the wide dissemination of the compilation and analysis of
legal norms.  Subject to the availability of funds, it should be
available in the working languages of the United Nations in the near
future.  The Commission also called upon the representative to
continue, on the basis of the compilation and analysis, to develop an
appropriate framework for the protection of internally displaced
persons.  The representative, accordingly, has been studying the
specific form such a framework might take, and is in the process of
developing a body of guiding principles.  A meeting of legal experts
was held at Geneva in June 1996 to develop the guiding principles.  A
further meeting was convened in October 1996, also at Geneva, in which
United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations
participated, to discuss the principles.  A meeting of lawyers from
the various geographic regions will be hosted by the Government of
Austria at Vienna in 1997 to review the draft principles.

5.   It should be noted that the guiding principles will address all
phases of displacement, including its prevention.  To this end, a
separate study is being prepared on the content and limitations of a
right not to be displaced, which will provide the basis for the
development of guiding principles pertaining to the pre-displacement
phase.  The guiding principles will thereby comprise the norms
applicable before internal displacement occurs, those that apply in
situations of internal displacement and those that apply to the post-
displacement phase.  It is the objective of the representative that
the framework developed should provide an explicit, adequate and firm
basis for the protection of and the provision of assistance to the
internally displaced and that it be strongly supported by the
international community.

6.   The analysis and evaluation of existing institutional arrangements
relevant to the internally displaced also reveal serious gaps.  While
there is no institution with an exclusive or full mandate for the
internally displaced, there is also no political will to create a new
institution or to mandate an existing one to assume full
responsibility.  The collaborative approach remains the only feasible
option, but it is often constrained by problems of coordination,
neglect of protection and insufficient reintegration and development
support.  Considering the intensity and scope of the crisis of
internal displacement, improvements are needed to provide a more
predictable and coherent response to situations of internal
displacement, especially in the area of protection.  An ongoing study
by the Brookings Institution and the Refugee Policy Group, under the
direction of the representative, has already made concrete suggestions
for institutional reform, which have been disseminated, and are
summarized in the various reports to the Commission on Human Rights. 
In 1997, a final set of proposals will be published, based on case
studies and further analysis of the relevant institutions.

7.   One particular development the representative would like to
highlight is the increasing importance of the involvement of regional
organizations.  These organizations are in a position to adapt
policies to regional realities, and also allow for innovative
approaches to be transmitted both to affected countries within their
regions and to the international system as a whole.  It is essential
that the capacities to cope with massive population displacement be
strengthened at the local, national and regional levels.  Several
developments at the regional level merit reporting.  The Organization
for Security and Cooperation in Europe, over the past few years, has
become involved with internally displaced persons in Tajikistan,
Bosnia and Herzegovina, and in the Caucasus.  The Organization of
African Unity, through its conflict-prevention mechanism, has been
taking measures to defuse tensions before displacement occurs, and its
Secretary-General has increasingly called attention to the need to
address internal displacement on the continent.  In 1995, the
representative met with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
of the Organization of American States, which subsequently took an
important institutional step by appointing a rapporteur on internally
displaced persons.  The representative recommends that other regional
bodies also consider establishing institutional mechanisms for the
internally displaced.

8.   Another important development at the regional level that should be
noted was the organization in May 1996 of a Regional Conference to
Address the Problems of Refugees, Displaced Persons, Other Forms of
Involuntary Displacement and Returnees in the Countries of the
Commonwealth of Independent States and Relevant Neighbouring States. 
The representative welcomes the wide range of initiatives proposed in
the Programme of Action with regard to internal displacement.  If
effectively used as a framework for cooperation and action, the
Programme of Action should result in the development of policies,
legislation and institutions at the national level to cope better with
the management of population displacement.

9.   Since it is Governments that must bear the major responsibility
for the plight of internally displaced persons, the programme of
country visits undertaken by the representative, which emphasize
solution-oriented dialogue with Governments, is one of the most
important features of the mandate.  It is particularly significant
that country missions focus attention on specific crisis situations in
the affected countries and make recommendations on what can be done by
the Government concerned in cooperation with the international
community, including governmental and non-governmental organizations,
to alleviate the situation.

10.  It is with the operational importance of country missions in mind
that the representative considers it opportune to submit to the
General Assembly the report on his June 1996 mission to Tajikistan,
bearing in mind that the situation in that country continues to
deteriorate and presents an ongoing challenge to the international
community.  The findings and recommendations in the report focus on
the need for improved coordination between the Government and the
humanitarian and development organizations operating within the
country; the need to direct development activities into sustainable
and self-reliant programmes; the need for continued efforts to
strengthen human rights protection and the rule of law; and the
importance of negotiating a comprehensive peace.

11.  As has been emphasized repeatedly in the reports of the
representative, country visits provide an important opportunity for a
constructive exchange of views with Governments and other pertinent
actors and also help raise the level of awareness within the country
to the problem of internal displacement.  Country visits, however, are
bound to have a very limited impact unless there is appropriate
follow-up.  Constant monitoring is needed to ensure that situations
are, in fact, improved and the recommendations arising from the
representative's discussions with Governments and international
organizations are carried out.

12.  Building on the activities of the mandate over the past several
years, in the year ahead, attention will continue to be focused on
these three areas - developing a legal framework, improving
institutional arrangements at the international, regional and national
levels, and enhancing the capacity of the mandate to play its
catalytic role with Governments and international organizations more


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Date last posted: 28 December 1999 17:35:10
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