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Expert Opinion

12 ways the Kampala Convention protects displaced people from legal limbo

Africa has more people affected by displacement caused by conflict than any other continent, with over 12 million people displaced by the end of 2013. This year the continent has again been affected with numerous crises including the Ebola epidemic, instability caused by armed groups such as Boko Haram and natural hazards such as floods and storms, forcing hundreds of thousands to flee. 

To commemorate the ground-breaking convention, IDMC’s paper “The Kampala Convention two years on: time to turn theory into practice” illustrates its achievements and how signatory countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Zimbabwe and Cote d’Ivoire have taken different approaches to implementing its provisions.

IDMC map of Kampala Convention signatories and sub-regional displacement figures (2013)

Despite progress in a limited number of countries, in general and throughout the continent progress of the Kampala Convention has been uneven or at times stalled. As of November 2014, 40 of the African Union’s 54 member states had signed the convention and 22 had ratified.

The Kampala Convention serves as a reminder that displacement is a problem that requires comprehensive structural and long term response at all levels. Here we outline 12 ways that the Kampala Convention can provide much-needed legal protection to the millions of displaced people across the continent:

 12 ways the Kampala Convention provides IDPs with legal protection

  1. Reinforces states’ primary responsibility to protect IDPs
  2. Establishes a legally binding definition of an IDP
  3. Addresses potential causes of displacement
  4. Facilitates the adoption of national legislation on IDPs’ protection and assistance, and policies that aim to address displacement issues
  5. Emphasises the need to secure funding to ensure IDPs’ protection and assistance
  6. Acknowledges the roles of all those involved in responding to displacement and sets out the actions required during its different phases
  7. It enshrines individuals’ right to be protected from displacement and states’ duty to adopt all measures needed to prevent it 
  8. Holds all those involved, including private and multinational companies, accountable for their actions
  9. Prohibits armed groups from committing acts of arbitrary displacement
  10. States that IDPs should not be discriminated against on the basis of their displacement, and that people with special needs should receive adequate protection and assistance according to their vulnerability
  11. Stipulates that states must collaborate with civil society and humanitarian organisations to ensure IDPs’ protection and assistance if they do not have the resources to do so themselves
  12. Makes national authorities responsible for creating the conditions required to achieve durable solutions

 For more information, visit IDMC’s  webpage on the Kampala Convention, and read our latest briefing paper "The Kampala Convention two years on: time to turn theory into practice".