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close this bookNew Approaches to New Realities (University of Wisconsin, 1996, 508 p.)
close this folderTheme TWO: Political, Security, Protection, Civil and Human Rights Aspects
View the documentTopic 7 - Protection, Security, Civil and Human Rights
View the documentTopic 8 - Provision of Assistance in Complex Emergencies
View the documentTopic 9 - Special Needs of Vulnerable Groups
View the documentTopic 10 - Support to Urban and Dispersed Populations
View the documentTopic 11 - Repatriation, Return and Reintegration
View the documentTopic 12 - Phasing Out Assistance

Topic 7 - Protection, Security, Civil and Human Rights

This paper was prepared by Sheila Reed of InterWorks. In addition to the resources listed in the paper, the following people provided significant contributions:

Guy Goodwin-Gill - is an independent consultant in matters of international law working in Geneva, Switzerland.

Courtney Mireille O’Connor - is an independent consultant in matters of international law and policy working in Washington, D.C.

This paper is a synthesis of the efforts of all of those cited above and as such does not express the viewpoint of any single resource, contributor or organization.


This paper focuses on the issues of protection, security, civil and human rights in emergency settlement. “Emergency settlement” is defined for the purpose of this discussion as individuals or a community of people made vulnerable by the loss of any essential element of settlement requiring emergency assistance from the international community. Although the emergency settlement may be referred to in a physical sense, such as a camp or within a community, protection is based on generalized principles and not necessarily tied to a physical location.

The term “protection” is often defined in different ways by different agencies and individuals. Protection can be viewed as a legal exercise, or as an overriding concept of the safeguarding of human rights, of which humanitarian assistance is a subset or methodology. The concept of protection is useful when interpreted in a wider sense.

“Protection has its origins in a human rights context and is defined with reference to the whole of the range of human rights. What needs to be protected are the human rights of the persons concerned. Those rights are defined in the corpus of international human rights law and may vary from state to state, depending on whether the state of nationality of the person concerned has acceded to one instrument or the other. Along with those rights, the human rights that form part of international customary law, by nature binding, also fall in the range of the rights to be protected” (Deng, 1995, p. 50).

This paper views humanitarian assistance as intrinsically related to protection and attempts to clarify basic principles and practices to help assistance agencies address the protection of human rights in emergency settlement. All assistance agencies support human rights, however, roles and responsibilities in this protective capacity are complex and are sometimes not defined or well understood. Some agencies are specifically mandated to assist governments to provide international protection through monitoring, facilitating legal procedures and jurisdiction. Other agencies protect the individual by providing safe refuge and basic needs.

One of the basic premises of this paper is that measures to protect human rights should be comprehensive. Concerns about human rights, including physical safety, providing assistance, and monitoring and reporting abuses should be practiced by all agencies assisting persons in emergency settlement. The coverage should extend from awareness to prevention, and from the emergency situation through the return to a normal existence. A comprehensive policy covers all persons in need, regardless of their status and without discrimination. It includes access by the assistance agencies to the affected population and by the affected population to the outside world.

The obligations of international agencies regarding provision of safe refuge and guarantee of rights are also contingent on the diverse circumstances and needs of individuals and groups. Some rights may require immediate recognition, such as the right to life and shelter, family unity, and the right to dignity and integrity of the person. Others may be matters for progressive recognition, such as the right to work and the right of children to education.

Despite the efforts of national and international agencies to safeguard human rights, the system of international law does not always have a mechanism to enforce compliance with the laws. Furthermore, new situations arise which are not covered adequately under existing laws. The many challenges facing the international community in support of these concerns heighten the need for focus on standards to provide protection of human rights and physical security.


1. Human rights should be respected at all times and under all circumstances including war, natural disasters and other emergencies. The protection of rights should be undertaken without discrimination or partiality.

The protection of human rights for everyone is generally upheld by international human rights legislation. The obligations of national governments are clearly stipulated by international law and customs: governments hold primary responsibility for protection of the rights of individuals within their territory. Assistance by the international community may be required if a State does not or cannot provide the needed protection, particularly to relieve life threatening suffering. International assistance, however, should not be seen as a substitute to protection provided by the government but rather a reinforcement or temporary replacement. Replacing the obligations of government may not be constructive in terms of efforts made to resolve problems within a country.

Assistance should be provided for all persons in need, regardless of their status. International protection of human rights should be determined by need and not categories. Under the rules of international humanitarian law, a displaced person who has abandoned his or her home as a result of armed conflict or unrest should be protected as a “civilian affected by the existence of hostilities”, regardless of whether the conflict is national or international or whether or not a person has crossed an international border. Persons who have ceased to be refugees (e.g. returnees, expellees), have crossed a border but whose status as a refugee has not been formally recognized (asylum seekers), or those who have not crossed an international border (internally displaced) may also be in need of protection. Under refugee law and international humanitarian law, the obligation to protect refugees is not conditional upon a formal recognition of their status.

Persons in need should be given safe refuge. The right of the individual to physical security includes protection against violence and attacks. Physical security encompasses the access to resources necessary to meet basic needs. It also involves safeguarding individuals from family separation and trauma. Programs and policies supporting physical security should be designed and applied in such ways that they do not discriminate because of age, race, ethnic, or gender groups or any other factors.

Refugees should be protected against expulsion or forced return to territories where their life or liberty would be in danger (refoulement). Under the rules of international law, States are obliged to admit to their territory all persons fleeing persecution, generalized violence, massive human rights violations or other circumstances seriously disturbing public order. The State providing asylum may not discriminate against refugees, and must allow them the same rights enjoyed by other legal immigrants. In refugee situations, the international community should work through the government of the country where the refugees are found

Persons in emergency settlement should receive all necessary humanitarian assistance to satisfy their basic needs. International, intergovernmental or nongovernmental agencies mandated to provide humanitarian assistance should be allowed unhindered access to populations in need. If essential supplies or funds are lacking, mounting of relief operations should be undertaken which are humanitarian and impartial. Governments and warring parties should not be allowed to use the deprivation of basic material assistance as a method of warfare. For this reason, the Geneva Conventions and their Additional Protocols refer assistance measures to “the International Committee of the Red Cross or any other impartial humanitarian organization”.

2. Protection of human rights should be comprehensive. A comprehensive protection policy seeks to prevent the deterioration of situations to the point where people are forced to flee. It should ensure respect for fundamental human rights and promote the resolution of problems during flight, emergency settlement, return or resettlement.

By the time serious and massive human rights violations occur, the chances of averting emergency settlement situations may be small. Safeguarding human rights and ensuring the security of those persons requiring international protection, therefore, are two effective ways to avert conditions resulting in the uprooting of individuals and groups. Activities to promote human rights and humanitarian law should be incorporated in all programs for international assistance, before, during and after emergencies.

The international aspect of protection should be supplementary to the responsibilities of the State, as discussed in Principle One. A comprehensive protection policy necessarily should look beyond the early stages of emergency settlement to a future, stable and continuing situation where flight is no longer required. Therefore, a comprehensive policy should cover such preventative activities as capacity and institution building, and addressing root causes of emergency settlement.

Assistance providers should anticipate diverse conditions and support individual needs to prevent and reduce risk of human rights abuses. Measures should be designed and implemented to anticipate, identify and address a variety of needs and varying intensities of need during flight, in emergency settlement, and beyond. While everyone in emergency settlement must be considered at risk, assistance agencies should be aware of possible threats, based on understanding of the root causes of the situation. For example, women and children may be at risk from physical attacks or abandonment. Unaccompanied adolescent girls, women single heads of households, the elderly, and disabled persons may be particularly vulnerable. Men may be at greater risk of losing their lives or forcible recruitment. Those who have crossed a border but whose status has not been determined may be at risk. In conflict situations, psychological and sociological destruction may accompany military measures. Assistance agency staff may also be at risk.

Assistance agencies should collaborate with each other, with national governments, local communities, and with persons in need to promote enforcement of human rights. Actions to promote human rights and humanitarian law are needed to back up field activities. Agencies should collaborate with other States and organizations in the international community to highlight State responsibility for uprootedness, and reinforce it where the country of origin or asylum fails to meet the needs of its residents. Human rights abuses should be reported to appropriate enforcement agencies.

Consolidated efforts are required to address the issues of protecting human rights and providing physical security. There are gray areas in international law in regard to protection needs for displaced persons. Enforcement mechanisms require strengthening. Gaps occur in coordination of assistance, addressing cultural aspects, training for assistance staff, and fostering security against violence.

Best Practices

Agency roles

Through their presence, observations and actions, assistance agencies have a tremendous potential to meet assistance needs, to prevent and stop human rights abuses and to effect changes needed to promote comprehensive protection activities. Organizations can work together, exercising their particular areas of expertise whether they have predominantly a political agenda, a humanitarian agenda, or a catalytic role. The prevention of the need for international protection of human rights should be the driving force behind agency efforts.

As all assistance agencies in emergencies address human rights in some form, agencies should strengthen their focus on the issues, including more directives in their mandates for protective measures if needed. Those working at the field level need to know critical information about the human rights protection mechanisms in emergency settlement situations and to understand the roles and capabilities of other organizations. Conversely, information regarding the human rights situation in an emergency settlement should be extended to the international community to encourage support of agencies in the field. Increased efforts for agency collaboration, information dissemination and training may promote prevention.

Determination of need for international protection

How is it determined which persons require international assistance due to a lack of protection by their own government or the State on whose territory they are found? A person’s right to life and safety, in a situation where local assistance is not available or otherwise forthcoming can only be upheld through the action of outside agencies. It is this basic right of the individual which leads to the corresponding responsibility of the international community to intercede in situations of emergency settlement.

It is still doubtful, however, whether laws clearly define protection needs for refugees and others displaced by civil conflict. They do identify certain essential rules, for example, with respect to non-refoulement and the protected status of non-combatants, but considerable uncertainty remains. The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees identifies five reasons for persecution which indicate a possible need for international protection. The 1969 Organization of African Unity Convention Governing the Specific Aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa refers to external causes such as foreign aggression and occupation. The 1984 Cartagena Declaration adds a focus on internal situations of generalized violence as a indication of vulnerability.

The law of non-refoulement alone does not provide complete protection for individuals against the right of a State to send them back. States may argue that in terms of international obligations, non-refoulement is limited to refugees within the meaning of the 1951 Convention and 1967 Protocol, that is, to refugees having a well-founded fear of persecution for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

There has not yet been an agreed determination of whether or not others require international protection, or are not sufficiently protected by their own government. However, violence, human-made and natural disasters, may give rise to needs for assistance, security and the protection of human rights by the international community. This recognition highlights the need for a process for policy and decision-making, capable of dealing with requests from States and initiating action in exceptional circumstances. As learned from recent experiences, some of the elements essential in such a process, might be based on:

· a foundation of accurate, coherent and trustworthy information
· transparency
· clearly limited and defined humanitarian objectives (including protection of human rights)
· open and accountable methods of operation

Protection of uprooted persons at national frontiers

In the event of the denial of admission to territory or access to refugee status determination procedures, agencies with foremost presence at the border or access to decision-makers in the relevant capitals should be informed immediately. UNHCR can coordinate any diplomatic or operational steps taken, given its mandate to protect the right to seek asylum. The logistical, political and military profile of the border in question will determine the best methods for protecting asylum-seekers at the border. Roving patrols on foot or four-wheel drive vehicles or other means of surveillance can be deployed at the border.

Situations where protection may be needed should be documented. In cases of refoulement and rejection at the frontier, information is of central importance. International organizations and NGOs need accurate reports of peoples, places, returns, officials responsible, and consequences. In principle, UNHCR may take action by interceding with the State responsible, but broader-based action should be encouraged. Among the best methods of protecting people from refoulement and rejection at the frontier is ‘being there’. One of the most successful protection activities in recent years was UNHCR’s deployment of ‘roving protection officers’ on the border between Honduras and El Salvador.

Coordination of assistance in insecure situations

International presence in insecure areas is an important form of protection. Key roles may be played by peace-keeping missions dispatched by the UN Secretary-General, regional organizations, human rights missions dispatched by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), or the UN Centre for Human Rights. UNHCR plays a protection role when it monitors the situation of voluntary repatriates to insecure areas to ensure their reintegration.

Organizations should complement each other’s efforts to assist. In conflict situations, for example, the ICRC can monitor application of international humanitarian law, evacuate the wounded, and visit detainees. The UN Secretary-General, the UNHCR, the Centre for Human Rights and NGOs may prepare reports to motivate international public opinion. UNHCR and some NGOs, like Refugees International, have experience with a type of mediation called “grass-roots peace-building”. Through dialogue, the agent finds innovative ways to bring together entities with opposing points of view, such as clan elders who are traditional adversaries. At a higher level, the Office of the UN Secretary-General may bring together the heads of governments and subversive forces.

Eight key principles have been proposed for humanitarian action in the UNDP-DHA “Humanitarian Principles and Operational Dilemmas in War Zones”. Humanitarian action should:

1. Relieve life threatening suffering.
2. Be proportional to need.
3. Be non-partisan.
4. Be able to act independently, assuring access to those in need.
5. Must be fully accountable.
6. Must be appropriate to meet needs.
7. Be seen within the context of the problem.
8. Must take precedence over sovereign concerns.

Determining the best way to help those who may return to or who do not leave dangerous situations, despite the persistence of conditions of insecurity, is a difficult task. However, assistance agencies have significant experience to draw upon. For example, UNHCR/UNDP - sponsored Quick Impact Projects (QIPs), and other longer-term or more comprehensive programs intended to provide subsistence materials, to develop the capacity to establish or rebuild basic infrastructures (particularly community structures, such as schools and markets). The promotion of immediate stability is obviously of central importance (conflict mediation and all it implies), as are longer-term economic development initiatives.

Practical application of protection

Through experience in protecting and assisting asylum-seekers, refugees and repatriates, UNHCR has found that it must also provide protection and assistance to other groups. These include family members and neighbors who have yet to cross a border in search of safety, or receiving country communities, who may also be in need. As people move in search of security, the definitions of their circumstances also change. For example, in El Salvador, many families were divided during the ten year civil war there, with one half seeking asylum in Honduras and the other half seeking safety in camps for the internally displaced. As a consequence, many of the refugees actually repatriated individually to these camps. In Sri Lanka, soon after their repatriation to their home country, many former refugees found themselves displaced internally by the ongoing conflict.

There are indeed gaps between principles governing the protection of human rights and assistance and the practical application of these principles. These gaps may indicate the need to review the existing mechanisms and revise them or devise new ways of operating. Among the principles often compromised in practice are the following:

· asylum or safe refuge
· non-refoulement
· access to populations in need
· humanitarian assistance (delivery)
· international solidarity
· international cooperation
· burden-sharing with the affected populations

Advocacy for access to emergency settlement communities

If arguments used to deny access are military, the ICRC should be contacted given the relevance of international humanitarian law. If the affected population are persons potentially of concern to the High Commissioner for Refugees, UNHCR staff on the ground may have greater or easier access. Other key contacts who could exert pressure on those denying access are the donor governments.

The issues of accountability and diversion are also relevant. It is difficult to control the destination of every parcel of assistance provided to a needy population. However, governments of both donor countries and those hindering access, have a legitimate concern in requiring greater accountability from agencies who provide materials and foodstuffs, particularly if diversion to insurgent or military forces is possible. Weak accountability may result ultimately in less assistance going to affected populations.

If access to populations in need of humanitarian assistance is denied, information must be collected and disseminated to those who can take appropriate action. This includes the UN Security Council, as denial of assistance may lead to a threat to international peace and security, for example, by giving rise to a mass departure of refugees. Other relevant agencies include the UN General Assembly, other UN mechanisms (for example, those responsible under various human rights treaties), regional mechanisms (both political and human rights), and the International Committee of the Red Cross.

Facilitating participation in community-based protection

The extent to which an emergency settlement can protect itself will depend on the profile of the uprooted population. Finding ways to motivate the community to protect itself depends on the source of the threat which may be both from outside and inside the community. Particularly in situations of conflict, where one force seeks to destroy militarily and psychologically the adversary’s society, the family may be broken up by violence. Women and girls may be subject to sexual violence. One overall objective underlying community based protection is to seek to replicate the protection mechanisms of a secure community in the exceptional circumstances of emergency settlement.

Involvement of the community - As a matter of principle, it should be recognized that the involvement and participation of emergency settlement populations in the day to day protection of human rights is central to success. This includes assuring that all persons have access to resources which serve their basic needs. The community should also be involved in legal protection matters. For example, there is a fairly regular practice of establishing tripartite commissions (country of refuge, country of origin, UNHCR) to oversee repatriation movements. A quadripartite commission (that is, with a refugee component) should be the norm, where a representative of the refugees should be selected to participate.

Controlling generalized violence - Camp compounds and communities should be designed or reinforced in view of security concerns, utilizing security lights and fencing. Appropriate steps should be taken to de-mine dangerous areas near a camp or community. Generalized violence and banditry may be effectively controlled by community based security teams and roving guards. The affected community may be able to implement a system of rapid communication with those local government or international entities in charge of security and protection in their camps or settlement areas. Full scale military attacks present a higher level of threat to which an unarmed population would not be expected to protect themselves, while protection from threats of rape and coercion from within the community may only be efficiently addressed by the community structure.

Addressing cultural factors - Regardless of any cultural inflexibility of the emergency settlement community, assisting agencies must find a way to ensure that the needs of all groups are understood and addressed. Women and children in particular may be vulnerable to “hidden” human rights abuses. When dealing with cultures which suppress the participation women in the public/civic decision-making process, a first step may be the formation of separate women’s and youth committees or activities where, in time, women and youths will feel comfortable sharing information. Their direct involvement in the traditional decision-making mechanisms of the community can be obtained over time, particularly, once the members realize its usefulness for the well-being of the community.

Cultural factors should not be regarded as an impediment to the protection of the individual rights of women and children. Traditions are usually created in response to perceived need and are modified over time as the perceived need changes. The realities of emergency settlement require many changes, sometimes altering the lifestyles of uprooted persons permanently. For example, many refugees return to their country of origin and continue working in the same manner as they did while in exile. Resolution of situations of sexual violence suffered by Somali refugee women have required dramatic changes in their behavior. Women accustomed to living in purdah (separation of sexes) now sit on decision-making committees with male elders to ensure that informed and practical measures are taken by the community.

Facilitating access to services - Assistance agencies should help persons in emergency settlements obtain access to information, education, work and basic civil procedures and protocols. For example, they should have access to courts of law to protect their interests. They should have a means of communicating with the outside world, be able to receive assistance from family members, trace missing relatives, and have rights to personal property. All events regarding their personal status, such as births, deaths, marriages, should be formally registered under the law of the country of their settlement.

Strengthening participation and understanding - The staff of the humanitarian organizations may sometimes impede effective protection and assistance of uprooted persons, particularly if they tend to treat all beneficiary populations alike. Gender and age sensitivity training can help to ensure the appropriate response by humanitarian organizations to situations of uprootedness. Management and emergency staff should be given priority for training. For example, People-Oriented Planning (POP) is a method of emergency management training conducted by UNHCR. This type of training provides a framework with which to examine needs and resources, learn about the traditions, and support survival in emergency settlement. Before deciding on the methodology, agencies should ensure understanding of the customs of the uprooted population and not rely on false assumptions in planning and implementation of its assistance activities.

Armed elements of emergency settlement populations

All countries are responsible for the protection of the human rights of the persons on their soil, regardless of nationality or origin. Government military or security forces may consider it necessary to enter emergency settlements either to protect or to maintain the civilian nature of its inhabitants. The presence of armed forces of the government on whose territory the uprooted persons find themselves could prevent voluntary or involuntary recruitment into an opposing or military force. In the case of refugees, even where their recruitment is voluntary and legal, upon taking up arms, their refugee status ceases. Their presence in a refugee camp may also pose a threat to the security of the other refugees.

Where the armed presence is illegal, education and public information campaigns about the necessarily civilian nature of such settlements is one way to inform the armed intruders of their violation as well as inform the uprooted persons of their rights. Moreover, dialog can be held at a decision-making level, in another country or different region of the country, to convey the concerns of the international community about the armed presence to seek mutually acceptable ways to deal with it.

Where the armed presence is not illegal, but results in the abuse of the uprooted population, physically or through the spreading of terror, efforts should be made to work with the central authorities with a view to changing or reducing the presence. The ICRC and UNHCR have conducted education for armed forces in aspects of international humanitarian, human rights and refugee law as well as in the mandates of the humanitarian agencies and the realities of the uprooted persons’ lives. This type of education aims to dispel misconceptions which lead to conflict and to build a sense of team spirit which facilitates conflict resolution.

In principle, the presence of armed persons is unacceptable, especially within situations of armed conflict, because their presence compromises the civilian, neutral and protected character of the settlement. The only exception might be the presence of controlled armed personnel in numbers necessary to maintain order and security. Practical concerns may necessitate a measure of accommodation in order to facilitate the delivery of assistance.

Towards a new instrument on humanitarian assistance and intervention?

The spectrum of humanitarian organizations is so broad that it is difficult to conceive of an instrument which would guarantee access to them all by communities living in situations of emergency settlement. It may be more logical to work with the legal and policy norms currently in existence to maintain the access of those impartial organizations who now have it and enhance that of those who do not. The legal norms present in the Geneva Conventions and Additional Protocols refer to the requirement not to impede and even facilitate the activities of the ICRC “and any other impartial humanitarian organization” to assist and protect victims of armed conflict.

Many, including governments, contend that an element of State responsibility is the recognition by a government of its inability to adequately assist and protect persons on its soil and, thereby, to call on the support of the international community to provide such support. A logical extension of such a request made of the international community would be facilitating the access of international humanitarian agencies and NGOs to the populations in need.

Protection of human rights and humanitarian assistance must be seen as inextricably interrelated, although the legal and material assistance components may be handled separately. The monitoring and support of human rights are of particular importance where the cause of flight relates to general violations of human rights, or threats to personal security. Where flight is not related to human rights violations or armed conflict, as in the case of the disaster displaced, material assistance will most likely be the dominant concern. The solutions to the problem of humanitarian intervention and assistance will benefit from both perspectives. For example, a tendency to focus on operational and logistical matters to the detriment of protection of the rights of individuals should be avoided.

A formal agreement is needed to improve the provision of protection and assistance, and to establish standards for intervention. However, it may be extremely difficult to devise an instrument that would comprehensively deal with everything of concern to emergency settlement populations including intervention, access, delivery of assistance, security of population and personnel. More practice in specific situations would assist the effort by showing what is practically feasible. A good case can be made for starting small perhaps within a regional or alliance context (Cf. Lome IV, CIREFCA, CPA). Any future agreement should avoid imposing new structures and should encourage true cooperation.

Strengthening and enforcement of international norms

How can the existing mechanisms be made adequate for the task of enforcement? Should governments be allowed to accept or reject on a case-by-case basis the jurisdiction of an international court? How can the practice of reporting on the protection of the civilian population be extended? Is an increase in mandates or flexibility in practice of UNHCR, DHA or ICRC, and improved or greater access in conflict zones called for? What are the best mechanisms to achieve peaceful solutions?

These questions regarding enforcement mechanisms reveal some of the underlying problems in the protection of human rights. Some important initiatives should be further explored and supported by the international community. These include the war crimes tribunals for the former Yugoslavia and Rwanda, and discussions about the creation of an international criminal court.

A certain level of recognition by the parties of the level and extent of a conflict is required before they are obligated under the Geneva Convention or its Additional Protocol. As a result, the failure of one or another party to the conflicts to recognize formally the severity of the conflict has limited the extent to which international obligations bind them. In situations of emergency, including international and non-international armed conflict or internal disturbances, States may not uphold their human rights obligations. International humanitarian law may address situations of armed conflict, but its applicability often depends upon the conflict reaching a certain level of intensity. The question of “who decides?” that this level has been reached deserves further study. There is also a need to extend the range and effectiveness of obligations, including with respect to non-governmental entities (armed opposition elements).

Any future standard or guideline should include provisions to protect individual rights by assistance in a non-discriminatory manner on the basis of cultural integrity or for other reasons. Although a great deal of study has been done on the protection and assistance needs of uprooted persons living in a camps or settlements, more attention needs to be given to the protection of human rights for uprooted persons living in urban and dispersed locations.

Information management and dissemination, including media coverage, are important tools to protect human rights. Various forms of information can bring sustained attention to the reasons for emergency settlement and the unique needs of specific groups. These include dissemination of laws, policies of States and humanitarian organizations, and guidelines for protection, unbiased assistance and emergency management.

Reporting on the human rights protection of the civilian population should be a necessary component of the overall strategy of the international community in terms of emergency settlement. The confidential work of the ICRC and the predominantly confidential work of UNHCR is also extremely important. The comparatively good access that organizations like UNHCR and the ICRC have is due in large part to the confidentiality with which they work. The maintenance of an appropriate balance between confidential access and public dissemination of information should be protected.

The public reporting to the UN Secretary-General by the human rights divisions of UN peace-keeping missions is a positive development of the 1990s. The tendency to allow the needs of ongoing political negotiations to control what human rights information is included in reports published by missions which also contain political or military components should be kept to a minimum. Perhaps the creation of human rights missions institutionally separate from the political and military aspects of peace-keeping will prove to be a step forward in this regard.

Dissemination of human rights instruments

With the advent of computer and communications technology, whether on diskette, CD-ROM or over the Internet, the relevant norms, and guidelines for their implementation, should be placed on or made directly available through every computer, lap-top and notebook in every office dealing with uprooted persons. The value of training in these matters and, in particular the training of persons in the various relevant institutions to further train in them is fundamental. Such workshops not only transmit information, they also allow for dialog, team-building and sometimes even conflict resolution.


Deng, Francis. 1995. “Dealing with the Displaced: A Challenge to the International Community.” Global Governance 1: 45-57.

Deng, Francis. 1995. “Human Rights, Mass Exoduses and Displaced Persons,” Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General, Mr. Francis Deng, submitted pursuant to Commission on Human Rights resolution 1993/95.

Doswald-Beck, Louise and Sylvain Vité. 1993. “International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law,” extract from International Review of the Red Cross.

Ferris, Elizabeth. 1993. Beyond Border: Refugees, Migrants and Human Rights in the Post-Cold war Era. WCC Publications: Geneva.

Goodwin-Gill, Guy. 1996. International Law of Disasters and Armed Conflict, UNDP-DHA Disaster Management Training Programme.

Goodwin-Gill, Guy. The Refugee in International Law, second edition, forthcoming. Clarendon Press: New York.

Helton, Arthur C. 1994. “Displacement and Human Rights.” Journal of International Affairs 47(2):379-399.

Inter-Agency Standing Committee. 1994. “Internally Displaced Persons” Report of the Inter-Agency Task Force.

International Committee of the Red Cross. “International Humanitarian Law,” unpublished.

International Committee of the Red Cross. 1983. Basic Rules of the Geneva Conventions and Their Additional Protocols, Geneva.

Krill, Françoise. 1985. “The Protection of Women in International Humanitarian Law,” extract from International Review of the Red Cross.

Maurice, Frédéric and Jean de Courten. 1991. “ICRC Activities for Refugees and Displaced Civilians,” extract from International Review of the Red Cross.

Minear, Larry and Thomas Weiss. 1993. Humanitarian Action in Times of War: A Handbook for Practitioners. Lynne Rienner Publishers: Boulder.

Minear, Larry and Thomas Weiss. 1993. Humanitarian Principles and Operational Dilemmas in War Zones, UNDP-DHA Disaster Management Training Programme.

Muntarbhorn, Vitit. 1988. “Protection and Assistance for Refugees in Armed Conflicts and Internal Disturbances,” extract from International Review of the Red Cross.

Plattner, Denise. 1992. “The Protection of Displaced Persons in Non-International Armed Conflicts,” extract from International Review of the Red Cross.

U.S. Committee for Refugees. 1992. “Croatia’s Crucible: Providing Asylum for Refugees from Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1981. “Protection of Asylum Seekers in Situations of Large-Scale Influx,” conclusion of the Executive Committee, No. 22.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1989. Conclusions on the International Protection of Refugees. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1990. Collection of International Instruments Concerning Refugees. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1991. Guidelines on the Protection of Refugee Women. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1992a. Guidelines on Security. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1992b. Guidelines on Security Incidents. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1993. The State of the World’s Refugees, The Challenge of Protection. Penguin Books: New York.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1994a. “Protection Aspects of UNHCR Activities on Behalf of Internally Displaced Persons,” report of the Executive Committee.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1994b. Guidelines on the Protection and Care of Refugee Children. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1994c. Handbook on People-Oriented Planning at Work. Geneva.

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. 1995. Guidelines on the Prevention of and Response to Sexual Violence against Refugees. Geneva.

International Instruments of Human Rights Law (partial listing):

Universal Declaration of Human Rights of 1948

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of 1966

International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights of 1966

United Nations Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or degrading Treatment or Punishment of 1984

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989

Regional Instruments of Human Rights Law:

The European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms of 1950

American Convention on Human Right, “Pact of San Jose” of 1969

African Charter of Human and People’s Rights of 1981

International Instruments of Refugee Law

Convention relating to the Status of Refugees of 1951

Protocol Relating to the Status of Refugees of 1967

Regional Instruments of Refugee Law

OAU Convention of 1969 Governing the Specific aspects of Refugee Problems in Africa Cartegena Declaration on Refugees of 1984

International Instruments of Humanitarian Law

Geneva Conventions for the Protection of War Victims of 1949

Additional Protocols of 1977

Additional Resources of Interest

International Journal of Refugee Law
Journal of Refugee Studies.
The Refugee Survey Quarterly

RefWorld, the range of databases developed by the Centre for Documentation on Refugees. These cover international legislation, national refugee legislation, case law, related UN information, as well as reports on situations in particular countries. A substantial portion of these databases is now available on the Internet, while a comprehensive CD-ROM is planned for later in 1995, together with access on the World Wide Web.