Item 72 (b) of the provisional agenda*
Promotion and protection of human rights: human
rights questions, including alternative approaches for
improving the effective enjoyment of human rights and
The Secretary-General has the honour to transmit to the General Assembly the report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons,
Cecilia Jimenez-Damary, submitted in accordance with General Assembly resolution 72/182 and Human Rights Council resolution 41/15.
In the present report, the Special Rapporteur seeks to highlight the situation of internally displaced children who are suffering and dying because of the lack of rapid and appropriate responses to their specific needs and protection concerns and the lack of capacity and resources to fill protection gaps on the part of humanitarian actors. She calls for renewed attention on improving the protection of internally displaced children, with a focus on concrete outcomes.
I. Protection of internally displaced children
Although the exact number of children living in internal displacement worldwide is unknown, at least 17 million1 were estimated to have been displaced worldwide by conflict and violence within their own countries by the end of 2018.
Countless more had been displaced by disasters. Five million youth between the ages of 18 and 24 were also estimated to be living in internal displacement. Research has pointed to how forced displacement disproportionately affects children, with the aim of better addressing the needs and protection challenges faced by “children on the move”, which was the theme of the ninth dialogue of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. The phrase “children on the move”, however, does not signify a homogeneous group and includes migrant and refugee children. The specific plight and vulnerabilities of internally displaced children tend to disappear among the varied groups considered under that umbrella.
The present report is aimed at bringing increased attention to the intersectionality between being a child and being internally displaced. Being a child shapes how the child experiences internal displacement, and being displaced shapes a child’s experience of living through armed conflict or violence. On the other hand, internally displaced children may share the same challenges as other displaced people but, because of their age, may be affected in different ways. Internally displaced children also often experience human rights challenges owing to interlinked forms of discrimination based on other factors, such as gender, group affiliation, disability and displacement itself. Certain groups or categories of internally displaced children can be especially at risk, such as unaccompanied, separated and orphaned children, street children, children with physical and mental disabilities, those who suffered severe trauma and children associated with armed forces or armed groups. The particular risks encountered also vary depending on the displacement context.
The anniversaries of instruments that are important for internally displaced persons and the rights of the child are observed in 2019, namely, the tenth anniversary of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa (Kampala Convention), the thirtieth anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the seventieth anniversary of the Geneva Conventions and the tenth anniversary of the Guidelines for the Alternative Care of Children. Moreover, the high-level political forum held in July 2019 on the theme “Empowering people and ensuring inclusiveness and equality” reviewed six Sustainable Development Goals, most of them relevant to internally displaced children as a particularly vulnerable group prone to be left behind. The tenth anniversary of the Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons and the twentieth anniversary of the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Rights of the Child, on the involvement of children in armed conflict and on the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography, will be observed in 2020.
While the present report is focused on displacement due to conflict, generalized violence and human rights violations, the Special Rapporteur acknowledges that many of the issues facing internally displaced children and their needs would be similar in situations of disaster brought on by natural hazards and the adverse effects of climate change.
The present report builds on the paper entitled “The rights and guarantees of internally displaced children in armed conflict”.2 It also benefited from extensive consultations with other partners, including the Office of the Special Representative of the Secretary-General on Violence against Children and experts from the Child Protection Area of Responsibility, the Committee on the Rights of the Child, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), the International Organization for Migration (IOM), the Joint Internally Displaced Person Profiling Service, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, the Global Protection Cluster, the Alliance for Child Protection in Humanitarian Assistance and non-governmental organizations, including through their participation in an expert meeting held in Geneva in March and in a side event in June during the forty-first session of the Human Rights Council, and written feedback. The Special Rapporteur would like to thank all who contributed, including Member States and in particular internally displaced children themselves, for sharing their views.