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The IASC Framework on Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons

A rights-based tool, the IASC Framework was developed under the leadership of Walter Kalin, the legal expert who led the drafting of the Guiding Principles and subsequently became the second RSG on IDPs.32 The release of the IASC Framework was the culmination of a long process of consultation and debate with organizations involved in supporting durable solutions. As with the Guiding Principles, the IASC Framework was presented to the UN Human Rights Council, and subsequently translated and disseminated. While the Guiding Principles focus primarily on the responsibilities of states, the main audience for the IASC Framework is the range of international actors involved in supporting durable solutions.33 The Framework sets out rights-based principles, processes, and criteria that should inform efforts to support durable solutions for IDPs uprooted by conflicts, natural disasters, or other causes. The Framework characterizes the resolution of displacement as a long-term process of progressive realization of interlinked rights and social goods, and articulates four key criteria that shape the extent to which IDPs have obtained a durable solution. According to the Framework, IDPs who have secured a durable solution will be able to equitably enjoy:

  • • Long-term safety, security and freedom of movement;
  • • An adequate standard of living, including at a minimum access to adequate food, water, housing, health care and basic education;
  • • Access to employment and livelihoods; and
  • • Access to effective mechanisms that restore their housing, land and property or provide them with compensation.[1]

Depending on the circumstances, achieving durable solutions to displacement may also necessitate IDPs’ equitable enjoyment of:

  • • Access to and replacement of personal and other documentation;
  • • Voluntary reunification with family members separated during displacement;
  • • Participation in public affairs at all levels on an equal basis with the resident population; and
  • • Effective remedies for displacement-related violations, including access to justice, reparations and information about the causes of violations.35

Despite efforts to popularize the IASC Framework, many humanitarian and development practitioners remain unaware of this standard. Some of those who are familiar with the standard but work in post-disaster contexts point out that it is predominantly geared to concerns that arise in post-conflict contexts, overlooking the particular challenges faced after disasters. Others admit that rather than helping them determine what concrete actions they can and should take, reading the Framework leaves them feeling overwhelmed at the complexity of the issue, and the high bar that, according to the Framework, needs to be reached in order to declare that durable solutions have been achieved. This suggests that the ambitious nature of ‘norm-filling’ soft law standards can sometimes inadvertently overwhelm rather than empower practitioners, particularly when the principles articulated in soft law standards are not linked to practical implementation advice, and stretch beyond the commitments and interpretations that resonate with states.

  • [1] IASC, Framework: A-1.
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