An internally displaced woman among the tens of thousands who have sought protection at Zam Zam IDP Camp in El Fasher, North Darfur, Sudan, fleeing fresh clashes between government and rebel forces. (Photo: UN Photo/Olivier Chassot, March 2011)
While the number of armed conflicts has decreased since the late 1990s, those between national governments and Non-State Armed Groups (NSAGs), or between armed NSAGs, continue to cause large-scale and prolonged displacement, both internally and to other - particularly neighbouring - states.
IDMC considers as NSAGs groups that:
- challenge the state monopoly on coercive force;
- operate outside effective state control; and/or
- are capable of preventing, blocking or endangering humanitarian action or peace initiatives.
The relationship between NSAGs and IDPs is often complex and varies greatly between contexts. In many countries, IDPs are exposed to
violence and to various violations of their rights, either by the State or by NSAGs. NSAGs have various obligations towards IDPs under
international law, which can be found in the Genera Conventions and their additional protocols, but also in the Rome Statut and the Kampala Convention, as well as the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement. However, the
vast majority of violations committed by NSAGs against IDPs and other civilians are perpetrated with impunity, as national governments have lost
the monopoly on the use of force and their judicial systems may function poorly. In some situations, internally displaced communities have
developed effective coping strategies and asserted their rights in the face of NSAGs. Finally, some NSAGs have taken steps to protect IDPs, by
collaborating with humanitarian organisations in providing assistance, facilitating IDPs' safe return or making commitments to respect protection standards.
Conference on Armed non-State actors and the Protection of Internally Displaced People
IDMC and Geneva Call organised in March 2011 an expert conference in Geneva, Switzerland, which explored different aspects of the complex interface between NSAGs and IDPs. The conference report details the findings of this unique event, during which current and former NSAGs and members of civil society from areas undergoing internal displacement expressed their views and perspectives, and humanitarian organisations and academics shared their experience and presented the findings of their academic and field research. The report also presents a series of recommendations to enhance IDP protection in situations where NSAGs are active.
IDMC and Geneva Call, June 2011, Conference on Armed non-State actors and the Protection of Internally Displaced People (March 23-24, 2011)
Internally displaced children in an IDP camp in Garowe, Puntland. (Photo: IRIN/Keishamaza Rukikaire, February 2011)
- Forced Migration Review, March 2011, Armed Non State Actors and Displacement, issue 37
- IDMC, May 2011, Generalized criminal violence in Mexico: basis, priorities, and challenges for humanitarian engagement
- Refugees Survey Quarterly, Engaging Armed Non-State Actors on Internally Displaced Persons Protection, 24 (3), pp. 96-111.
NSAGs commitments to IDP protection
NSAGs have engaged to commit to IDP protection through a series of bilateral agreements and other commitments. The first document below describes the various types of commitments NSAGs have made, with relevant excerpts. It is followed by a non-exhaustive list of documents which mention IDPs specifically.
- Armed Groups and Internally Displaced Persons: Selected Commitments, Sivakumaran, S., March 2011
- Government of Central African Republic and Convention des Patriotes pour la Justice et la Paix (CPJP), 12 June 2011, Accord de cessez-le feu
- Accord de cessez le feu et de paix entre le gouvernement de la République Centrafricaine et le Mouvement politique et militaire centrafricain : Armée Populaire pour la Restauration de la Démocratie (APRD), 9 May 2008
- Accord de paix entre le gouvernement de la République Centrafricaine et l’Union des Forces Démocratiques pour le Rassemblement (UFDR), 13 April 2007
- Statement by the Opposition Movements Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and Sudan Liberation Movement-Unity (Sudan) (published on 11 July 2008)
- Cotonou Accord, 25 July 1993 (between Interim Government of National Unity (IGNU) of Liberia, National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) and the United Movement of Liberia for Democracy (ULIMO), Article 18
- Action Plan between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the United Nations in the Philippines regarding the Issue of Recruitment and Use of Child Soldiers in the Armed Conflict in Mindanao, Supplement General Order for General Order Nos. 1 & 2, 20 January 2010