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25 Mar 2010 description

By: Roberta Cohen


The concept of the responsibility to protect (R2P) developed in large measure from efforts to design an international system to protect internally displaced persons (IDPs).

The explosion of civil wars emanating from and following the Cold War brought into view millions of persons inside their own countries who were uprooted from their homes and in need of international protection and assistance. Many had little or no access to food, medicine or shelter and were vulnerable to assault, sexual violence, and all manner of human rights abuse.

16 Oct 2008 description

Carlos Pascual, Vice President and Director, Foreign Policy

16 Jul 2008 description

By Walter Kälin, Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and Co-Director, Brookings-Bern Project on Internal DisplacementChairperson, Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

One thing is certain: Climate change is happening and one of its visible impacts is the increasing numbers of persons displaced by natural disasters that can be linked to climate change. What is also clear is that we are only partially equipped adequately to deal with this challenge and are required to develop appropriate humanitarian responses both at the …

12 Jun 2008 description

Roberta Cohen, Nonresident Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy

The growing number and severity of natural disasters, especially in Asia, make it timely for governments to take a hard look at how to improve their national response. Just as there are scales for measuring the intensity of earthquakes and other disasters so should there be performance standards for measuring how governments respond. Without them, states are prone to improvise with little or no attention to the steps that might best address or mitigate disasters.

16 May 2008 description

by Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow and Lex Rieffel, Nonresident Senior Fellow

The December 2004 tsunami that devastated the province of Aceh in Indonesia was a human tragedy but a political blessing in the form of a peace agreement. What are the chances that the dark cloud of Cyclone Nargis, which slammed Myanmar/Burma on May 3, will have the silver lining of being a catalyst for political change?

When the 2004 tsunami struck in Indonesia, the government had been fighting a secessionist movement in Aceh for more than four decades.

15 May 2008 description

by Elizabeth Ferris, Senior Fellow

Last week's television images of desperate Burmese victims of the Nargis cyclone were followed almost immediately by reports of equally desperate Chinese searching for relatives in the rubble of a disastrous earthquake in Sichuan.

23 Apr 2008 description

by Khalid Koser, Fellow

In the 1980s BBC docudrama 'The March', hundred of thousands of Africans marched northwards toward the Mediterranean to escape starvation, prompting widespread panic in Europe about an impending 'flood' of 'illegal migrants'. The current global food crisis is very unlikely to result in mass migration, and population movements that do occur will almost certainly take place within countries and not across borders, and for a short-period of time only.

30 Sep 2007 description

September 2007 - Internally displaced persons (IDPs) were central to the humanitarian reform initiated by Jan Egeland, then-Emergency Relief Coordinator in 2005. It was widely recognized that the collaborative approach which had been developed to assign institutional responsibilities for IDPs was not working. Humanitarian reform was intended to "fill the gaps" in humanitarian response - particularly for IDPs -- but over time it became something else.