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An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders. [2] They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the legal definitions of a refugee.[3]

In 2005 there was an attempt to fix the problem by giving sectoral responsibilities to different humanitarian agencies, most notably with the UNHCR taking on the responsibility for protection and the management of camps and emergency shelters.[37] The Forced Migration Review" stated that the "abnegation of responsibility is possible because there is no formal responsibility apportioned to agencies under the Collaborative Response, and thus no accountability when agencies renege on their promises."[38]

The cluster approach designates individual agencies as ‘sector leaders’ to coordinate operations in specific areas to try to plug those newly identified gaps. The cluster approach was conceived amid concerns about coordination and capacity that arose from the weak operational response to the crisis in Darfur in 2004 and 2005, and the critical findings of the Humanitarian Response Review (HRR) commissioned by the then ERC, Jan Egeland. Egeland called for strengthening leadership of the sectors, and introduced the concept of "clusters" at different levels (headquarters, regional, country and operational)’.

The cluster approach operates on the global and local levels. At the global level, the approach is meant to build up capacity in eleven key ‘gap’ areas by developing better surge capacity, ensuring consistent access to appropriately trained technical expertise and enhanced material stockpiles, and securing the increased engagement of all relevant humanitarian partners. At the field level, the cluster approach strengthens the coordination and response capacity by mobilizing clusters of humanitarian agencies (UN/Red Cross-Red Crescent/IOs/NGOs) to respond in particular sectors or areas of activity, each cluster having a clearly designated and accountable lead, as agreed by the HC and the Country Team. Designated lead agencies at the global level both participate directly in operations, but also coordinate with and oversee other organizations within their specific spheres, reporting the results up through a designated chain of command to the ERC at the summit. However, lead agencies are responsible as ‘providers of last resort’, which represents the commitment of cluster leads to do their utmost to ensure an adequate and appropriate response in their respective areas of responsibility. The cluster approach was part of a package of reforms accepted by the IASC in December 2005 and subsequently applied in eight chronic humanitarian crises and six sudden-onset emergencies. However, the reform was originally rolled out and evaluated in four countries: DRC, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda.

The clusters were originally concentrated on nine areas:

  1. Logistics (WFP)
  2. Emergency Telecommunications Cluster (WFP)
  3. The cluster approach operates on the global and local levels. At the global level, the approach is meant to build up capacity in eleven key ‘gap’ areas by developing better surge capacity, ensuring consistent access to appropriately trained technical expertise and enhanced material stockpiles, and securing the increased engagement of all relevant humanitarian partners. At the field level, the cluster approach strengthens the coordination and response capacity by mobilizing clusters of humanitarian agencies (UN/Red Cross-Red Crescent/IOs/NGOs) to respond in particular sectors or areas of activity, each cluster having a clearly designated and accountable lead, as agreed by the HC and the Country Team. Designated lead agencies at the global level both participate directly in operations, but also coordinate with and oversee other organizations within their specific spheres, reporting the results up through a designated chain of command to the ERC at the summit. However, lead agencies are responsible as ‘providers of last resort’, which represents the commitment of cluster leads to do their utmost to ensure an adequate and appropriate response in their respective areas of responsibility. The cluster approach was part of a package of reforms accepted by the IASC in December 2005 and subsequently applied in eight chronic humanitarian crises and six sudden-onset emergencies. However, the reform was originally rolled out and evaluated in four countries: DRC, Liberia, Somalia and Uganda.

    The clusters were originally concentrated on nine areas:

    IASC Principles deemed it unnecessary to apply the cluster approach to four sectors where no significant gaps were detected: a) food, led by WFP; b) refugees, led by UNHCR; c) education, led by UNICEF; and d) agriculture, led by FAO.

    The original nine clusters were later expanded to include agriculture and education.

    International law

    Unlike the case of refugees, there is no international universal treaty which applies specifically to IDPs. Only a regional treaty for African countries has been established (see Kampala Convention). Some other countries have advocated re-thinking the definitions and protections for refugees to apply to IDPs, but so far no solid actions have come to fruition.[39][40] Recognizing the gap,

    The original nine clusters were later expanded to include agriculture and education.

    Unlike the case of refugees, there is no international universal treaty which applies specifically to IDPs. Only a regional treaty for African countries has been established (see Kampala Convention). Some other countries have advocated re-thinking the definitions and protections for refugees to apply to IDPs, but so far no solid actions have come to fruition.[39][40] Recognizing the gap, the UN Secretary-General, Boutros-Ghali appointed Francis Deng in 1992 as his representative for internally displaced persons. Besides acting as an advocate for IDPs, Deng set out in 1994, at the request of the UN General Assembly to examine and bring together existing international laws which relating to the protection of IDPs.[41] The result of this work was the document, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.[6]

    The Guiding Principles lay out the responsibilities of states before displacement – that is, to prevent displacement – during and after displacement. They have been endorsed by the UN General Assembly, the African Commission on Human and People's Rights (ACHPR) and by the signatories to the 2006 Pact on Security, Stability and Development in the Great Lakes Region, which include Sudan, DRC and Uganda.

    The Guiding Principles, however, are non-binding. As Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Special Rapporteur on Refugees, IDPs and Asylum Seekers in Africa for the ACHPR has stated, "the absence of a binding international legal regime on internal displacement is a grave lacuna in international law."[42]

    In September 2004 the Secretary-General of the UN showed the continuing concern of his office by appointing Walter Kälin as his Representative on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons. Part of his mandate includes the promoting of the Guiding Principles.[43]

    In so-called "post-conflict" situations, there has traditionally been an emphasis in the international community to seek to return to the pre-war status-quo.[44] However, opinions are gradually changing, because violent conflict destroys political, economic and social structures and new structures develop as a result, quite often irreversibly.[44] Furthermore, returning to the pre-war status-quo may actually be undesirable if pre-war structures led to the conflict in the first place, or prevented its early resolution. IDPs' and refugees' right of return can represent one of the most complex aspects of this issue.[44]

    Normally, pressure is applied by the international community and humanitarian organization to ensure displaced people are able to return to their areas of origin

    Normally, pressure is applied by the international community and humanitarian organization to ensure displaced people are able to return to their areas of origin and the same property.[44] The UN Principles for Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and IDPs, otherwise known as the Pinheiro Principles, provides guidance on the management of the technical and legal aspects of housing, land and property (HLP) restitution.[44] Restitution rights are of key importance to IDPs and refugees around the world, and important to try preventing aggressors benefiting from conflict.[44] However, without a clear understanding of each local context, full restitution rights can be unworkable and fail to protect the people it is designed to protect for the following reasons, refugees and IDPs:[44]

    Researchers at the Overseas Development Institute stress the need for humanitarian organization to develop a greater expertise in these issues, using experts who have a knowledge in both humanitarian and land and property issues and so provide better advice to state actors seeking to resolve these issues.[44] The ODI calls on humanitarian agencies to develop an awareness of sustainable reintegration as part of their emphasis on returning IDPs and refugees home.[44] Legal advice needs to be provided to all parties involved even if a framework is created in which to resolve these issues.[44]

    See also