Development-Induced Displacement and Resettlement: Social Problem and Human Rights Issue
University of Geneva Research Paper No. 9
215 Pages Posted: 9 Jun 2013
Date Written: May 20, 2013
The object of this report is to present development-caused displacement and resettlement as a highly diverse global social problem occurring in all regions of the world, as a human rights issue, and as a source of challenges to public international law and and institutions providing humanitarian assistance. More in-depth analysis has been preceded by an introduction which draws attention to the specific nature of DIDR as one of the categories of internal displacement. Equal attention has been devoted to the origins of research into this subject already undertaken during the fifties. Initially the field was limited to a small group of applied anthropologists, who analyzed the social consequences of construction of dams in Africa. The political character of this problem and its large social consequences have in recent years caught the attention of scholars in a growing number of disciplines. Another purpose of this report is to analyze the main causes of development-induced displacement worldwide. In order to maintain the transparent character of the analysis, I have distinguished eight main causes of the process. These include: a) construction of dams, hydropower plants, artificial reservoirs, irrigation projects and channels, b) development of transportation (building of roads, highways, railways, airports, ports, etc.), c) urbanization, re-urbanization and other transformations of urban space (expansion of urban areas, demolition of poverty-stricken districts such as slums and favelas, urban transport, underground and water supply projects, d) mining and transportation of resources (especially expansion of open-cast mining), e) deforestation and development of agriculture (especially large monoculture plantations, such as palm oil plantations on Borneo Island), f) population redistribution schemes (such as the politics of villagization in Ethiopia and Tenzania), g) conservation of nature: the creation of national parks, reserves or other biosphere protection units (the problem of so-called conservation refugees or conservation-induced displacement), and h) other reasons. The next task undertaken in this report is the analysis of DIDR specificity in the several regions of the world most acutely affected by this problem. I analyze the most spectacular or best-known examples of development projects which have led to involuntary resettlement having a negative impact on the living standards of local communities. I devote much attention to the methods of humanitarian assistance for DPs and to relations between DIDR and international human rights law and protection. Recently adopted documents relating to the protection of displaced people (Guiding Principles of Internal Displacement, the Great Lakes Pact, Convention of Kampala) treat this problem in a very selective and limited manner. Increased involvement of national and international actors in this issue should be accompanied by adequate action on the part of international humanitarian agencies including the UNHCR. In another section of the publication I draw attention to the activities of international institutions on issues of development-induced displacement and resettlement. The World Bank is currently the only international institution significantly engaging with this issue. A substantial part of the report is devoted to analysis of the consequences of development-induced displacement and resettlement on the basis of the concept of human security which has evolved since the early nineties. The displacement caused by economic development, like all other categories of forced migration, is related to the significant decrease in the level of human security of people forced to flee their homes. The concept of human security can be used to analyze both the individual and community consequences of global social problems. The report is supplemented by the author’s extensive bibliography, over 50 pages long, of material related to development-induced displacement.
Keywords: development-induced displacement and resettlement, involuntary resettlement, human rights
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation