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close this bookLaw in Humanitarian Crises Volume I : How Can International Humanitarian Law Be Made Effective in Armed Conflicts? (European Commission Humanitarian Office)
close this folderInternational Humanitarian Law and the Law of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons
View the document(introduction...)
View the documentI. Introduction
Open this folder and view contentsII. The Inadequacy of International Refugee Law in Situations of Armed Conflict
Open this folder and view contentsIII. The Inadequacy of International Law in Respect of Internally Displaced Persons
Open this folder and view contentsIV. The Need for Comprehensive Approaches
View the documentV. Conclusions and Recommendations

V. Conclusions and Recommendations

In conclusion, it seems justified to state that international law is not yet adequately dealing with situations of forced displacement as a result of armed conflicts. Such situations entail not only immense suffering on the part of the displaced persons, but increasingly tend to threaten the internal stability of the States concerned and peace and security in a given region of the world. Therefore the international community is called upon to seriously consider means to deal with this humanitarian crisis in a more efficient way. It is suggested that this implies, firstly, to adequately address the root causes of such displacements and, secondly, to develop more efficient means to extend assistance and protection to the persons concerned; this applies in particular to internally displaced persons in situations where the forces in control of the situation, be they governmental or insurgent forces, are unwilling to provide such assistance and protection or to allow another country or the international community to do so. In other words: what is needed is a thorough discussion of the possibilities of the international community as to how causes and effects of external and internal displacements might be more efficiently remedied and durable solutions to such situations be implemented.

As regards possible improvements in respect of the legal and factual situation of refugees, the issue of implementing the concept of temporary refuge deserves further consideration and action. Moreover, there is an urgent need for strengthening and enforcing the rights of refugees to personal security and assistance as regards their basic means of subsistence.

As regards possible improvements with regard to the legal and factual situations of internally displaced persons, it is suggested that the international community continues to concern itself with the task of developing a set of rules filling the existing lacunae in international law and of identifying ways and means to better implement the existing norms of international human rights and humanitarian law applicable in situations of internal displacement as a result of armed conflicts.

Furthermore, with a view to apparently existing inadequacies of the international machinery involved in protecting and assisting both refugees and internally displaced persons, experts should continue their efforts aiming at overcoming the deficiencies of the presently existing institutional framework. Another aspect that is considered to deserve much more attention relates to the issue of a fair and equal sharing of the burdens connected with situations of large-scale displacements of persons as a result of armed conflicts.

Moreover, the international community must develop a stringent and politically unbiased, non-selective strategy as to how to deal with the root causes and effects of such displacements. Options to be more intensively considered include the resort to peaceful (economic) sanctions against those States that conduct policies which result in the (external or internal) displacement of persons. Although it must be stressed that armed humanitarian intervention should be considered only as a last resort in order to prevent and remedy such situations of large-scale displacements, it has to be emphasized that the recourse to such action is under certain conditions permissible under contemporary international law and might indeed considerably contribute to solve, or reduce, the effects of the humanitarian crisis inevitably connected with large-scale displacements as a result of armed conflicts. In line with recent developments, it is to be stressed that such armed humanitarian interventions should never be undertaken as a uni- or multilateral action without the explicit authorisation of the UN Security Council or, possibly, the competent bodies of regional organisations. Since humanitarian intervention is fraught with the risk of potential abuse, the standards for its deployment and operation should be very carefully developed.

Finally, it is suggested that the international community further intensifies its efforts to develop comprehensive approaches which might, eventually, result in overcoming the differentiation as to the legal regimes applying to externally and internally displaced persons, at least if such displacements are caused by armed conflicts; in addition, it seems necessary to extend the presently prevailing comprehensive approach of international refugee law with regard to norms applicable before, during, and after situations of external displacement also to situations of internal displacement.