Out of Africa: Toward Regional Solutions for Internal Displacement
50 Pages Posted: 20 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 1, 2014
On December 6, 2012, the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons (the “Kampala Convention”) entered into force, becoming the world’s first legally-binding instrument to define the responsibilities of states toward IDPs. The Kampala Convention reflects a general conception of internal displacement as a regional problem requiring the cooperation of myriad regional actors and the active involvement of the African Union itself, thus illustrating a solution to the common situation of a state’s inability or unwillingness to independently meet the needs of its IDPs. This Note argues that the Kampala Convention could serve as a template for the League of Arab States to adopt a regional solution to internal displacement for instances in which reliance on national resources or international intervention leaves IDPs insufficiently protected or provided for, as in the situation in the Syrian Arab Republic since 2011. It is argued that the Arab League should employ a similar approach to that of the AU and create a convention that frames internal displacement as a regional problem with a regional solution. Such an approach may prevent future large-scale displacement crises and better protect and assist those who do become displaced.
Part I provides background on the current legal framework applicable to IDPs and examines the implications of a regional solution to the problem of internal displacement. Part II explores the regional conditions, provisions, and limitations of the Kampala Convention. Part III considers transferring the AU’s approach to the Arab region through implementation of a similar convention by the Arab League. The Note concludes with the suggestion that a convention that addresses internal displacement in the Arab region by framing it as a regional issue, deserving of a regional solution, would well serve the Arab League as a viable alternative to the current options for providing protection and assistance to the region’s IDPs.
Keywords: IDP, internal displacement, internally displaced persons, African Union, Arab League, regional organizations
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