Main Debates

  • Is the extension of UNHCR’s mandate sufficient or is there a need for a specialized agency?
  • Should there be a separate global treaty for the protection of internally displaced persons?
  • Does the emergence of ”responsibility to protect” improve the situation of the internally displaced?
  • Should conflict induced displacement be treated differently from other types of involuntary domestic migration?

Main Points

  • Emergence of IDPs as a category of individuals in need of protection in the 1990s
  • International border as a defining criterion
  • Challenge of implementing human rights treaties to offer sufficient protection for the internally displaced


  1. African Union, Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention), adopted on 23 October 2009 and entered into force on 6 December 2012.

Soft Law

  1. UN Commission on Human Rights, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, UN doc. E/CN.4/1998/53/Add.2 (11 February 1998).
  2. ’London Declaration of International Law Principles on Internally Displaced Persons’, International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 12, no. 4 (2000), p. 672. 



  1. Internal Displacement: A Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2013, Global IDP Project, Norwegian Refugee Council, Geneva 2014.
  2. A. Adebe, ‘The African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons: its Codification Background, Scope, and Enforcement Challenges’, Refugee Survey Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 3 (2010), pp. 28–57.
  3. R. Cohen, ‘Strengthening Protection of IDPs: The UN’s Role’, Georgetown Journal of International Affairs (Winter/Spring 2006), pp. 101–109.
  4. W. Kälin, ‘The Role of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’, Forced Migration Review, (October 2005), pp. 8–9.


  1. H. Entwisle, ‘Tracing Cascades: The Normative Development of the U.N. Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’, Georgetown Immigration Law Journal, vol. 19 (2004–2005), pp. 369–390.
  2. N. Geissler, ‘The International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons’, International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 11, no. 3 (1999), pp. 451–478.
  3. W. Kälin, ’Internal Displacement’ in: E Fiddan-Qasmiyeh, G. Loescher, K. Long, N. Sigona (eds): The Oxford Handbook of Forced Migration and Refugee Studies, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2014), pp. 163 – 175.
  4. K. Koser, ’Internally Displaced Persons’ in A. Betts, Global Migration Governance,(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 210 – 223.
  5. K. Luopajarvi, ‘Is there an Obligation on States to Accept International Humanitarian Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons under International Law?’, International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 15, no. 3 (2003), pp. 678–714.
  6. B. Ní Ghráinne, UNHCR’s Involvement with IDPs – ‘Protection of that Country’ for the Purposes of Precluding Refugee Status?, International Journal of Refugee Law, vol. 27, no. 1 (2015), pp. 1 – 19.
  7. P. Orchard, ‘Perils of Humanitarianism: Refugee and IDP Protection in Situations of Regime-induced Displacement’, Refugee Survey Quarterly, vol. 29, no. 1 (2010), pp. 38–60.

Editor’s Note

See the discussions of internally displaced persons in Africa and in the Americas in Section III.4.5 and Section IV.4 respectively.