Managing Forced Displacement by Law in Africa: The Role of the New African Union IDPs Convention
This Article provides a critical appraisal of the newly adopted African IDPs Convention. In particular, it offers a detailed analysis of the Convention’s transformation of the UN Guiding Principles into legally binding rules for the management of the phenomenon of internal displacement in Africa. By definition, internally displaced persons (IDPs) are persons who have not crossed international frontiers and are citizens of the state within which they find themselves. Although their conditions may be similar to refugees, who are necessarily aliens to the host community, their legal status is not analogous. At the most basic level, there is no doctrinal agreement on whether “IDP” is a legal status at all. This has created a fundamental doctrinal dilemma. The Article analyzes the merits of the arguments for and against according IDPs a distinctive legal status analogous to refugees. It also provides a detailed discussion of the important provisions that define the rights and responsibilities of IDPs and the various state and non-state actors during the three most important phases—before displacement, during displacement, and after return.