Edited by Satvinder Singh Juss
Chapter 3: Internally displaced persons and international refugee law
Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) are similar to refugees in the sense that their movement is involuntary; they often flee for similar reasons; and they have similar needs, wants and fears. However, IDPs and refugees are treated differently in law and in policy. By crossing a state border, a refugee receives protection from the 1951 Refugee Convention and comes within the protection mandate of the UNHC. However, being categorised as an IDP does not entitle a person to any additional rights under international law. IDPs, as human beings, are protected by human rights and humanitarian law, but have no legal ‘status’ and no specific international agency to protect them. Furthermore they outnumber refugees by almost two to one, This chapter gives a brief overview of the relationship between IDPs and international refugee law by mapping out the two key debates in this field: First, whether IDPs and refugees should be treated differently in law; and second, whether the increase in IDP protection may be (mis)interpreted as obviating the need for international protection and asylum.
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