Internally Displaced Persons, Need for a Separate Legal Framework?

Zafar Bhat. Dated: 5/15/2017 11:22:43 AM

Zafar Bhat
Jammu, May 14
There are an estimated 20 million IDPs in the world. There is a growing concern that despite the magnitude of the problem there is no special legal regime for IDPs.
The challenge involves, it is said both one of providing material assistance to those in need, as also ensuring protection and respect for their fundamental human rights.
In any discussion of the international law governing IDPs it is important at the outset to distinguish refugees from IDPs. It may be recalled that a refugee by definition is a person who crosses an international border whereas an IDP remains inside the territory of the concerned state of which he or she is a national.Critics contend that there is no justifiable reason for denying assistance and protection to a person simply because he or she has not succeeded in crossing a border. While, Hathaway reviews that historical and practical reasons which led to alienage being prescribed as a criteria for determining refugee status.
Notably, Scholarly opinion is divided on the need for evolving a specific legal framework to meet the assistance and protection need of IDPs. One School of thought contends that the existing regime of international human rights and humanitarian laws offer a firm basis to enforce the accountability of the states. Indeed, it argues that any attempt to produce a separate legal regime for IDPs could undercut the extensive legal framework which already exists. The other school of thoughts believes that there is need for a definitive legal statement of the principles and norms applicable to IDPs. While, Francis Deng, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on IDPs, and Roberta Cohen respectively argue that a specific framework would be more helpful.


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