Internally displaced persons (IDPs)

In its Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, the United Nations defines internally displaced persons (IDPs) as “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflicts, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.”

See Displaced persons; Deportation (Forced Movement); Refugees;



Protection by IHL: prohibition of population displacements

    GCIV, 49

    PII, 17

    CIHL, 129 B




Suggested readings:

ABEBE Allehone Mulugeta, “Displacement of Civilians during Armed Conflict in the Light of the Case Law of the Eritrea-Ethiopia Claims Commission”, in Leiden Journal of International Humanitarian Law, Vol. 22, No. 4, 2009, pp. 823-851.
ABEBE Allehone Mulugeta, “Legal and Institutional Dimensions of Protecting and Assisting Internally Displaced Persons in Africa”, in Journal of Refugee Studies, Vol. 22, No. 2, June 2009, pp. 155-176.
BUGNION François, “Réfugiés, personnes déplacées et droit international humanitaire”, in Revue suisse de droit international et de droit européen, Vol. 3, 2001, pp. 277-288.
Canadian International Development Agency, The Long Road Home: Opportunities and Obstacles to the Reintegration of IDPs and Refugees Returning to Southern Sudan and the Three Areas: Report of Phase II: Conflict, Urbanisation and Land, London, Overseas Development Institute, September 2008, 84 pp.
COHEN Roberta, “Developing an International System for Internally Displaced Persons”, in International Studies Perspectives 7, 2006, pp. 87-101.
COHEN Roberta, “Ten Years of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement”, in Forced Migration Review 10, 2008, 39 pp.
COHEN Roberta & DENG Francis M., Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement, Washington DC, Brookings Institution Press, 1998, 414 pp.
COLLINSON Sarah (ed.), Realising Protection: the Uncertain Benefits of Civilian, Refugee and IDP Status, London, Overseas Development Institute, September 2009, 62pp.
CONTAT HICKEL Marguerite, “The Challenge Posed by Displaced Persons”, in Refugee Survey Quarterly, Vol. 20, February 2001, pp. 51-54.
DAVIES Sara E. & GLANVILLE Luke, Protecting the Displaced: Deepening the Responsibility to Protect, Leiden, Boston, M. Nijhoff, 2010, 210 pp.
GOLDMAN Robert, “Codification of International Rules on Internally Displaced Persons”, in IRRC, No. 324, September 1998, pp. 463-466.
ICRC, Internally Displaced People: Humanitarian Response to Internally Displaced People in Armed Conflict, Geneva, ICRC, June 2010, 12 pp.
ISLAM Rafiqul, “The Sudanese Darfur Crisis and Internally Displaced Persons in International Law: the Least Protection for the Most Vulnerable”, in International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 18, No. 2, June 2006, pp. 354-385.
KAELIN Walter, The Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Annotations, Washington, The American Society of International Law, 2008, 171 pp.
KELLENBERGER Jakob, “The ICRC’s Response to Internal Displacement: Strengths, Challenges and Constraints”, in IRRC, Vol. 91, No. 875, September 2009, pp. 475-490.
LAVOYER Jean-Philippe, “Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons: International Humanitarian Law and the Role of the ICRC”, in IRRC, No. 305, March-April 1995, pp. 162-180.
LAVOYER Jean-Philippe, “Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement”, in IRRC, No. 324, September 1998, pp. 467-480.
LUOPAJÄRVI Katja, “Is There an Obligation on States to Accept International Humanitarian Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons under International Law?”, in International Journal of Refugee Law, Vol. 15/4, 2004, pp. 678-714.
MAURICE Frédéric & COURTEN Jean de, “ICRC Activities for Refugees and Displaced Civilians”, in IRRC, No. 280, January-February 1991, pp. 9-21.
PHUONG Catherine, The International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons, Cambridge, CUP, 2004, 293 pp.
PLATTNER Denise, “The Protection of Displaced Persons in Non-International Armed Conflicts”, in IRRC, No. 291, November-December 1992, pp. 567-580.
“Internally Displaced Persons: The Mandate and Role of the International Committee of the Red Cross”, in IRRC, No. 838, June 2000, pp. 491-500.
The Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, Protecting Internally Displaced Persons: a Manual for Law and Policymakers, Washington, Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on internal displacement, October 2008, 280 pp.
ZAAT Kirsten, “The Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in the Sudan: Applying International Law at the Field Level, in Journal of Humanitarian Assistance, October 2006, 33 pp.