News / Africa

Kampala Convention is First of its Kind for Displaced People

Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.
x
Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.
Internally displaced Congolese wait for food to be distributed at the Mugunga 3 camp outside the eastern town of Goma, December 2, 2012.

Multimedia

Audio
Kim Lewis
The world’s first comprehensive, continental treaty that addresses the multiple causes of internal displacement took effect on December 6, in Africa. The treaty, named the Kampala Convention, was first adopted by the African Union in October 2009 in Kampala, Uganda.

Fifteen countries are now bound by the convention, and 37 of the 53 countries in the AU have signed it, saying they will commit to the rights and well-being of internally displaced people as well as to other aspects of the convention.

The Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, based in Geneva, Switzerland announced that Africa was the first to show leadership in creating a treaty that directly focuses on the plight of IDPs.  The treaty is comprehensive in that it addresses the multiple factors associated with displacement of people from their homes, including causes, effects, responses and prevention of displacement. 

Sebastian Albuja, head of the Africa department of the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, IDMC, explained the significance of the treaty being developed in Africa.

“This is very important because first of all, Africa is the continent in the world with the highest number of people who are internally displaced.  That’s around 10 million people who are displaced in their country, and that’s only because of conflict and violence.  In addition to that, if you tally people who are displaced by building projects, or by natural disasters, the figure would be a lot higher.  So it’s really important because of the scope of the issue of the problem.  And, also because it’s an African solution to African problems.  It is African leaders who have pioneered this convention and have drafted it and negotiated it, so it’s important that Africa leads the way in adopting this binding legal instrument.”      

Albuja added this comprehensive framework is innovative because it will not only address the needs of people, but will also hold states responsible for making sure the rights of IDPs are protected, saying "it’s a historic convention because it’s the first of its kind, in that it sets specific obligations that governments must implement to help and protect people displaced within their own country."

There are many examples across Africa where humanitarian aid has been impeded by instability and violence.  Workers are simply not able to access those in need.  Albuja said the Kampala Convention will also address this challenge.

“The convention itself will not be able to stop armed groups directly.  But what it does, it sets these obligations for governments primarily, beyond humanitarian agencies, be it international or civil society agencies.  It sets the obligations on governments to do so, and what’s important that is the convention has a broad scope, so it covers different types and causes of internal displacement," said Albuja.

He added that “throughout Africa, millions are forced to flee from a really toxic mix of events.  They include wars, they include violence.  But also they include natural disasters, floods and droughts, and so on.  So it’s particularly important that the convention has this broad scope, and that’s what makes it an innovative instrument throughout the continent.”      

The treaty will also address the issue of what happens to people once it is safe for them to return to their place of origin.  This situation creates challenges in a number of ways, because in many cases, for economic reasons, people may decide to stay where they are, or move on to another location, or they could decide to return home.

“It’s very important to acknowledge that the convention is more of a beginning than an end," said Albuja. "It certainly has been a long process of negotiating the convention.  It’s been roughly three years.  But, it’s really a beginning.  What this means is that it sets these new standards that governments must implement. It’s really important for governments to carry on these obligations that the convention specifies.” 

The United Nations Refugee Agency, the UNHCR, also hails the historic breakthrough.

“Somalia was the first country which signed the convention back in October 2009. They ratified it in March 2011, and now that there is at long last a legitimate government, UNHCR is going to work with the authorities to translate these commitments under the Kampala Convention into an appropriate national IDP policy," explains Bruno Geddo, the UNHCR representative for Somalia. 

While the treaty is a historic achievement for Africa, Albuja said the hope is that it will encourage other world leaders to follow suit.  The convention itself will not change the plight of internally displaced people.  Rather, it will take those countries legally bound by the treaty to ensure that people are protected.

You May Like

Could Nemtsov Threaten Putin in Death as in Life?

Dynamic and debonair opposition leader had supported liberal economic reforms, criticized Russian president's aggression in Ukraine More

Oil Smuggling Highlights Challenges in Shutting Down IS Finances

Pentagon spokesman says Islamic State 'certainly continues to get revenue from the oil industry black market' but that airstrikes have made a dent More

India Focuses on Infrastructure, Investment to Propel Economy

Government expects economy to grow at 8 to 8.5 percent in next fiscal year More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More