Reconciling State Sovereignty and Protections for the Internally Displaced
Invisible Refugees: Internally-Displaced Persons and the New Understandings of Protection and Sovereignty, at 21 (J. Williams ed., Pax International 2003).
9 Pages Posted: 27 Oct 2013
Date Written: 2003
Questions about state sovereignty arise in any discussion of how best to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs). IDPs are those driven from their homes in fear like refugees, but who unlike the latter have not crossed the international boundary into another state. They "are among the most vulnerable populations, desperately in need of protection and assistance." Sovereignty does not prevent effective action to meet these needs, but governments invoking "sovereign rights" sometimes do.
States retain a set of exclusive sovereign prerogatives but these are not absolute, and are balanced by corresponding responsibilities. These include responsibilities to other states, and the responsibilities of the state towards its own citizens. In particular, each state has the responsibility to provide both internal and external security to its citizens. When a state cannot provide for the security of its citizens international humanitarian assistance becomes essential.
Keywords: internally displaced persons, IDPs, state sovereignty, international law, human rights, responsibilities, humanitarian
JEL Classification: K30, K33, K39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation