25 years of progress on internal displacement 1998-2023


This report highlights examples of laws and policies introduced to address internal displacement and initiatives to prevent internal displacement, protect and support IDPs, and improve data on internal displacement. The report also presents IDMC’s Internal Displacement Index, a composite index to measure the coverage of laws and policies, and the institutional capacity to address internal displacement in 46 countries. 

Main messages: 

  • The 1998 Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement have become a global reference on IDPs’ rights and protection. While non-binding, the Guiding Principles have been integrated into laws and policies at the regional and national levels, including the 2006 Great Lakes Protocol on the Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons (Great Lakes Protocol), and the 2009 Kampala Convention.
    The Great Lakes Protocol requires its 12 member states to incorporate the Guiding Principles into national legislation; By the end of 2022, nine member states had adopted a national law, policy, or specific instrument on IDPs.
    Adopted by African Union (AU) member states, the 2009 Kampala Convention requires signatories to protect and assist IDPs; 31 of 55 AU member states have ratified it and are gradually integrating its provisions into domestic legal and policy frameworks. Niger and Chad have adopted national legislation to domesticate the provisions of the Kampala Convention, and other countries are in the process of drafting legislation, including Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Mali, Nigeria, Republic of the Congo, Somalia, and South Sudan. Uganda already had a policy on internal displacement before the Kampala Convention was adopted. 
  • Between 1998 and 2022, the number of countries with national policies recognizing or referencing internal displacement increased from 9 to 44 (out of 46 countries). In 2021, both Mozambique and Nigeria introduced policies addressing internal displacement, and in 2023, both Honduras and Chad introduced a law on internal displacement. Additionally, 25 of 46 countries have policies on climate change that reference displacement.  
  • There are several promising initiatives led by government, nongovernmental organizations, and IDPs to address IDPs’ legal, physical, and material needs. For example, in Azerbaijan, government has spent more than US$6 billion on monthly allowances, service provision, fee and tax exemptions and the construction of housing, schools and health facilities.  
  • The 2010 IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons has been incorporated into the laws, policies, and strategies on internal displacement in several countries, including Afghanistan, El Salvador, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. In the Horn of Africa, the IASC Framework has guided regional, national, and sub-national durable solutions initiatives. The framework is also the basis for several data initiatives including the Expert Group on Refugee, IDP and Statelessness Statistics (EGRISS).  
  • In 2019 the UN Secretary General established the High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement. Following consultations with IDPs, host communities and other stakeholders, and submissions from more than 100 member states, UN agencies and NGOs, the panel presented ten recommendations to the Secretary General in 2021. This was followed by an Action Agenda on Internal Displacement in June 2022 and the appointment of a Special Advisor on Solutions to Internal Displacement to support implementation of the agenda, structured around prevention, response, solutions, and governance. 
  • Promising efforts are under way in some countries to incorporate prevention approaches into national policies, resilience programming and anticipatory action mechanisms. These tend to focus on displacement due to disasters and climate change, but there is also emerging evidence of successful interventions to reduce intercommunal conflict over resources through community-based resilience programming in Kenya and Somalia. 31 of 46 countries include measures to prevent displacement in their national laws and policies. 
  • There is increasing recognition of the need to assess displacement risk. IDMC, CIMA Research Foundation, ETH Zurich, the World Bank, IFRC, and the Danish Refugee Council have initiatives to assess the risk of displacement linked to disasters, displacement, and conflict. 
  • There are several initiatives at the global level to improve data on internal displacement, including Joint IDP Profiling Service (JIPS), EGRISS, International Organization for Migration (IOM) Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM), World Bank UNHCR Joint Data Center on Forced Displacement, and the Humanitarian Data Exchange (HDX), among others.  
  • There are a growing number of governments that publish or endorse data on internal displacement. Between 2020 and 2022, the number of governments publishing or endorsing disaster displacement data grew from 36 to 45 out of 46 countries. Of 44 countries hosting conflict induced IDPs in 2022, only 34 published or endorsed data on internal displacement.  
  • Persistent data gaps remain. Disaggregation remains a key gap; 26 of 46 countries in 2022 did not disaggregate data by age and sex either for disaster or conflict displacement. Another major gap is data on duration of displacement and sustainability of returns and other durable solutions.