Towards the Evolution of Legal and Institutional Framework for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in Nigeria
14 Pages Posted: 20 Jan 2014
Date Written: January 18, 2014
The Refugee Convention (RC) 1951 and its 1967 Protocol (the current international legal regime on the protection of refugees) do not guarantee any legal protection for the category of persons who have been forced to migrate outside the boundaries of their countries due to incidences of inclement weather, famine, flood, earthquake and other natural disasters. To come under the protection of the RC, a person must have been forced to leave his home country “…owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion….” Persons who have been forced to leave their homes, homesteads, towns, cities, farms and familiar terrains due to incidences of inclement weather, famine, flood, earthquake and other natural disasters; but are trapped or displaced within the boundaries of their countries are often in more dire situations. These persons usually referred to as “Internally Displaced Persons” (IDPs) do not come under the protection or welfare of any internationally binding agreements. Apart from the 1998 UN Guiding principles on Internally Displaced Persons which is at best regarded as guiding and not binding and the recently adopted AU Kampala Convention, there is no internationally binding legal framework for the protection of IDPs. Unfortunately, most states have no municipal law to cater for their wellbeing. In Nigeria, for example, this category of persons is left to the whims and caprices of a local regulatory agency; the National Emergency Monitoring Agency (NEMA). This agency more often than not is not proactive in the welfare of such persons. The effect is mass human rights abuse often suffered by this class of persons most especially the children and the womenfolk as they often become beggars and objects of pity in the locality which they have been forced to migrate to. The recent and continuing incidents of flooding experienced in Lagos, Bayelsa and Kogi States of Nigeria, which has displaced millions of the inhabitants of such states from their homes coupled with loss of lives and damages to properties brings to the fore, the urgency of the need for legal and institutional framework for the protection of these persons in Nigeria. This paper assesses the emerging trend of legal protection for internally displaced persons in the African continent especially the very recently adopted African Union Kampala Convention on Internally Displaced Persons. It observes that the obligations imposed by the Convention on its member states is not limited to guaranteeing the welfare of IDPS only but also legislating and taking necessary administrative and incidental steps towards eradicating the causes of internally displacement in the African continent. The overarching objective of the paper is to prove that the non justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights as well as environmental rights in Nigeria is both a causal factor as well as one of the factors militating against adequate protection of IDPS in Nigeria. The paper demonstrates that the non justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights as well as environmental rights in Nigeria continues to impede good governance and sustainable development in the nation. The international implication is that this type of forced migration is a direct flow towards mass migration outside the boundaries of the country of origin of the IDPs. The effect is thus rebounding on nations’ international neighbours. The resultant effects task the social, economic and political resolve and foreign policy of such neighbours. The paper seeks out some recommendations and public policy implications which may be of international acceptance for addressing this issue within and outside Nigeria.
Keywords: African Union, Climate Change, Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Internally Displaced Persons, Kampala Convention, Nigeria, Refugees
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