The number of internally displaced persons is at a record high, with most living in protracted displacement. While the humanitarian response in emergency situations is more effective than a decade ago, overall governance — the set of norms, institutions and processes necessary to address internal displacement — remains weak. Using the 1998 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as the normative point of reference, this paper addresses several questions: What governance gaps and challenges exist in responses to internal displacement? Are there promising new approaches to internal displacement? How can we build on these approaches to make responses more reliable and effective?

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Research papers are policy documents commissioned by the World Refugee Council from world-renowned experts to help inform the work of the Council and its final recommendations. The measures and concepts in these documents do not necessarily reflect the views of the World Refugee Council.
  • Walter Kälin is professor emeritus for international and (Swiss) constitutional law, University of Bern/Switzerland. He is the present Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement (since July 2017) and the former Envoy of the Nansen Initiative on disaster-induced cross-border displacement (2012–2015). He also served as Representative of the UN Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons (2004–2010); as a member of the UN Human Rights Committee (2003–2008, 2012–2014); and as Special Rapporteur of the UN Human Rights Commission on the situation of human rights in Kuwait under Iraqi occupation (1991–1992).