We are at a decisive moment for the future of internally displaced persons (IDPs) across the globe. Internal displacement has been a contentious issue in global politics. Because it is by nature internal to a single country – and many times, caused by the State itself - attempts to strengthen global accountability have been systematically shut down. Despite progress, little political attention has been given in the last years to finding long-term solutions to the problem.
The High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement was established by the UN Secretary-General to enhance political will for internally-displaced persons and identify concrete recommendations on how to better prevent, respond and achieve solutions to the global internal displacement crisis.
The release of the recommendations of the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement marks a key moment in one of the most significant global mobilisations to find a way forward to the crisis of internal displacement in more than a decade. While the report contains bold and forward-looking recommendations, implementation will be crucial.
It is a particularly important moment for internally displaced girls. Due to their gender and age, they often face discrimination, violence, difficulty accessing education and healthcare. They are also less likely to participate in decisions on matters that affect them.
Promoting equality, participation and accountability for IDPs
To influence the recommendations, Plan International has worked with the High-Level Panel, NGO partners and internally displaced youth to propose solutions. Together with World Vision, we advocated for a global approach to tackling challenges and encouraged common responsibility for the protection and empowerment of IDPs.
In a submission signed by more than fifty organisations, we also proposed a pathway for the development of laws, policies, and responses to internal displacement focused on promoting gender equality and upholding the equal rights of children, persons with disabilities and other minority groups. We made clear that those groups must be better represented in decision-making processes.
How are these issues reflected in the final High Level Panel report? The report proposes ambitious ideas around accountability, including a push for a Special Representative for the Secretary General on IDPs. If properly implemented with the meaningful participation of IDPs and civil society, those recommendations could be an important catalyser of political will and accountability towards finding solutions to internal displacement.
The report and its recommendations are also a landmark for internally displaced young women and girls. It not only recognises their discrimination and exclusion from decision-making but also calls on reforming systems to better address the specific barriers they face. Even more importantly, the report clearly states that laws, policies and responses must seize the opportunity to eliminate legal and/or societal inequalities that prevent women and girls from exercising their full rights.
Mobilizing the international community is critical
The next few months will be key in determining the future of the way internal displacement is addressed. The UN Secretary-General must lead efforts to develop a roadmap to implement the recommendations of the High-Level Panel in the short, medium and long term. If he and the UN system fail to mobilise political commitment, we might be missing out on one of the most important opportunities in decades to change the lives of 45.7 million IDPs worldwide.
The international community more broadly has also a key role – and a moral duty – to cooperate and ensure sustained political will and the necessary resources to implement the recommendations at all levels. Even more importantly, we must walk our own talk and empower internally displaced persons in all their diversity to be at the centre of the next steps in this journey.
At Plan International, we are committed to support inclusive and gender responsive implementation of the recommendations and engage the communities that we work with in the process moving forward.