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

Will Cuba Follow the Southeast Asia Model?

Decision to restore ties between US and Cuba has some debating whether it will lead to an enhancement or regression of democracy on the Communist island nation More

Kenyan Designer Finds Her Niche in Fashion Industry

‘Made in China’ fabrics underlie her success More

Report: CIA, Israel's Mossad Killed Senior Hezbollah Commander

The Washington Post story says Imad Mughniyah was killed instantly by a bomb "triggered remotely" from Tel Aviv by Mossad agents More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Lateri
X
Deborah Block
January 31, 2015 12:12 AM
Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Jefferson's Library Continues to Impress, 200 Years Later

Two hundred years after the U.S. Congress purchased a huge collection of books belonging to former President Thomas Jefferson, it remains one of America’s greatest literal treasures and has become the centerpiece of Washington’s Library of Congress. VOA’s Deborah Block reports.
Video

Video Egypt's Suez Canal Dreams Tempered by Continued Unrest

Egypt plans to expand the Suez Canal, raising hopes that the end of its economic crisis may be in sight. But some analysts say they expect the project may cost too much and take too long to make life better for everyday Egyptians. VOA's Heather Murdock reports.
Video

Video Threat of Creeping Lava Has Hawaiians on Edge

Residents of the small town of Pahoa on the Big Island of Hawaii face an advancing threat from the Kilauea volcano. Local residents are keeping a watchful eye on creeping lava. Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Pro-Kremlin Youth Group Creatively Promotes 'Patriotic' Propaganda

As Russia's President Vladimir Putin faces international pressure over Ukraine and a failing economy, unofficial domestic groups are rallying to his support. One such youth organization, CET, or Network, uses creative multimedia to appeal to Russia's urban youth with patriotic propaganda. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Filmmakers Produce Hand-Painted Documentary on Van Gogh

The troubled life of the famous 19th century Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh has been told through many books and films, but never in the way a group of filmmakers now intends to do. "Loving Vincent " will be the first ever feature-length film made of animated hand-painted images, done in the style of the late artist. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Issues or Ethnicity? Question Divides Nigeria

As Nigeria goes to the polls next month, many expect the two top presidential contenders to gain much of their support from constituencies organized along ethnic or religious lines. But are faith and regional blocs really what political power in Nigeria is about? Chris Stein reports.
Video

Video Rock-Consuming Organisms Alter Views of Life Processes

Scientists thought they knew much about how life works, until a discovery more than two decades ago challenged conventional beliefs. Scientists found that there are organisms that breathe rocks. And it is only recently that the scientific community is accepting that there are organisms that could get energy out of rocks. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports.
Video

Video Paris Attacks Highlight Global Weapons Black Market

As law enforcement officials piece together how the Paris and Belgian terror cells carried out their recent attacks, questions are being asked about how they obtained military grade assault weapons - which are illegal in the European Union. As VOA's Jeff Swicord reports, experts say there is a very active worldwide black market for these weapons, and criminals and terrorists are buying.
Video

Video Activists Accuse China of Targeting Religious Freedom

The U.S.-based Chinese religious rights group ChinaAid says 2014 was the worst year for religious freedom in China since the end of the Cultural Revolution. As Ye Fan reports, activists say Beijing has been tightening religious controls ever since Chinese leader Xi Jinping came to office. Hu Wei narrates.
Video

Video Theologians Cast Doubt on Morality of Drone Strikes

In 2006, stirred by photos of U.S. soldiers mistreating Iraqi prisoners, a group of American faith leaders and academics launched the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. It played an important role in getting Congress to investigate, and the president to ban, torture. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

In the mid-1980’s, thousands of Sudanese boys escaped the country's civil war by walking for weeks, then months and finally for more than a year, up to 1,500 kilometers across three countries. The so-called Lost Boys of the Sudan had little time for games. But one of them later mastered the game of chess, and now teaches it to children in the New York area. VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York has his story.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid