The international protection of internally displaced persons

Geissler, N
July 1999
International Journal of Refugee Law;Summer99, Vol. 11 Issue 3, p451
Academic Journal
Between twenty and twenty-five million persons have been forced to leave their homes or places of habitual residence in the last few years, because of armed conflicts, internal strife or systematic violations of human rights. Unlike refugees, internally displaced persons (IDPs) have not crossed an internationally recognized State border, but rather seek refuge in another part of their country, which renders their situation intrinsically complicated. Typically, this movement is characterized by the occurrence of large-scale violations of human rights, but IDPs benefit from no clearly defined institutional responsibility or protection. This article aims to highlight some aspects of the situations of internally displaced persons, having regard to their legal and institutional protection under international human rights and humanitarian law. The author reviews the search for an appropriate definition and examines the general framework of protection; he examines some of the gaps in the system and at the possibilities of institutional protection. Finally, the article refers to some possible solutions and aims to contribute to an overdue legal and political debate on one of the most challenging contemporary humanitarian problems.


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