Global Protection Cluster Retreat 2016: Summary of Discussions
Our world today- major trends
The Global Protection Cluster’s situation analysis underpinning its Strategic Framework 2016-19 sets out the context in which we work today. The scale of internal displacement today is unmatched since the Second World War, and it outstrips the rate of the world population’s growth since measurements of internal displacement began in the early 90’s. There has been an upward trend in displacement due to conflict and violence since 2011, and the figure now stands at 40.8m IDPs. Disasters have currently displaced around 19.2 million people in 113 countries IDMC reported figure for 2015. In addition, the scale of displacement caused by development is believed to be even greater than conflict and natural disaster displacement, and operations already have to deal with development-induced displacement as part of complex solutions responses (e.g. South-East Myanmar).
Displacement is not only a humanitarian challenge but a complex political and developmental one (SecretaryGeneral’s report for the World Humanitarian Summit, [One Humanity, Shared Responsibility], (http://sgreport.worldhumanitariansummit.org/) para. 81. This is visible in the multiple causes of displacement, which include a growing lack of respect for international humanitarian law (Syria, Yemen), transnational criminal networks (Central America), environmental degradation (Philippines, Darfur), climate change (Lake Chad, Vanuatu), development (Myanmar, India), and disease outbreaks (Liberia, Sierra Leone). The link between internal displacement and its root causes and external displacement is often over-looked, particularly in operational terms. An example of this displacement continuum is visible in the drought in Ethiopia, which is causing migration to urban areas and internal displacement, which is in turn leading to external migration and to the use of smuggling and trafficking networks across the Arabian Peninsula and Europe. While the drivers and triggers of internal displacement are not inherently a humanitarian problem, the humanitarian system has been challenged to act faster and more effectively. Importantly, effectiveness is more and more understood in terms of protecting the human rights of crisis-affected people (for example, the Report of the Secretary-General’s internal review panel on UN action in Sri Lanka, from November 2012, criticized the UN’s failure to do everything in its power to counter targeted attacks on civilians), with protection recognized as the purpose and outcome of humanitarian action (in a significant advance, in December 2013, the IASC adopted a Statement on the centrality of protection in humanitarian action at the Global Protection Cluster’s initiative).
The lack of solutions for protracted displacement is particularly noteworthy where, on average, the duration of internal displacement is 17 years (Brookings-LSE Project on Displacement, Ten years after humanitarian reform: How have IDPs fared?). For this reason, three quarters of humanitarian funding in the last decade has gone to the same 20 countries, while six of the largest recipients have had humanitarian appeals for ten consecutive years. Defining in operational terms the end of displacement and disengagement is a recurrent issue. A target for reducing internal displacement by at least 50 percent by 2030 (Secretary-General’s report for the World Humanitarian Summit, One Humanity, Shared Responsibility, para. 83) has the potential of generating momentum if the necessary protection and policy safeguards are respected.
The Global Protection Cluster Retreat in 2016 brought together the highest number of participants to date with representatives from over 35 countries. The agenda for the retreat was developed in coordination with field clusters and intended to respond to their identified needs and areas for learning and exchange.
The two days covered a lot of ground through formal presentations, panels and interactive group sessions.
Updates were provided on important initiatives such as the IASC Protection policy, the Humanitarian Program Cycle and Protection Information Management. Learning and innovation was shared from the field drawing on contexts including South Sudan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Democratic Republic of Congo, Guatemala and Libya. The retreat also had the pleasure of welcoming the Humanitarian Liaison Working Group and being hosted by Filippo Grandi, UN High Commissioner for Refugees, to a reception on the first evening.
The retreat provided much opportunity for network strengthening, learning, exchange and professional development. On the second day, break-out sessions in the morning and afternoon covered topics as varied as identification of atrocity crimes, innovative approaches to protection interventions and responses, cashbased interventions, call centre establishment in Erbil and climate change and disaster displacement. This provided participants with the opportunity to explore areas of individual interest and to learn from each other’s experience in smaller groups.
At the conclusion of the retreat the GPC Coordinator thanked the participants for their active engagement and the presenters for sharing their insights. The retreat is not able to, or designed to, cover every topic but succeeded in addressing those issues that are most likely to affect the operation of protection clusters in the coming year. It further succeeded in sharing tools and innovations for continuing to place protection at the centre of humanitarian action and ensuing appropriate funding to do so.