By : Riya Yadav, Presidency University 


Forced Migration is a general term applies to the movement of refugees and internally displaced people. This article investigates the protection needs of forcibly displaced population and also makes certain recommendations on how these challenges might be met and how protection can be enhanced. The principle of protecting the human rights has its foundations in international human rights and humanitarian law, norms and standards. However, in the globalized era, the trends and dynamics of rapid urbanization are extremely different from the situation when the 1951 Refugee Convention and later the Protocol of 1967 were adopted. The increasing complexity, unpredictability and indiscriminate patterns of violence and conflict of people who are forcibly displaced by these events, challenge the efficacy of established protective norms and practice. It is these concerns that underpin the rationale for this study and define the context within which it is situated.

KEYWORDS: Forced Migration, Internally Displaced People, Refugees, Refugee Convention. 


We live in a progressive world where refugees and forced migrants play an important part in the economic, political and social agendas of sovereign states, intergovernmental agencies and civil society groups. Today tens of millions of people are refugees, raising fundamental challenges for governments around the world. It was not until 1950-51, when UNHCR was established and the 1951 Refugee Convention drafted and adopted, that a formal structure was put in place for the protection of migrants. This convention was significant as it provided a definition of who should benefit from the rights enshrined in it. More importantly, it placed the responsibility for protecting and assisting refugees and asylum seekers squarely on states. However, the definition of a refugee, as enshrined in the 1951 Refugee Convention, has been regularly challenged over the past 60 years, and is under constant review by academics, governments and humanitarian agencies. Many forcibly displaced people around the world don’t easily fit within this formal category. Yet they’re equally vulnerable and require protection. Obviously, protection is not a solution to rooted problems; it is, however, the foundation of both international humanitarian action for forcibly displaced populations and the quest for permanent solutions to their challenges. 



The majority of forcibly displaced people still remain in their country of origin despite the widening geographies of mobility but in the past, once they had been displaced, the affected populations largely remained in protracted exile. However, perhaps the most salient features of contemporary patterns of forced displacement are explored, each posing new, contrasting and challenging protection needs and challenges; and each exposing significant protection gaps and shrinking protection space.


Since, majority of forced migrants are internally displaced and many IDP’s are under the assumption that they might return back or they might have been protected through the assistance of humanitarian actors such as ICRC. In  addition to these wide ranging displacement geographies and the protection challenges they generate, two specific circumstances apply in the case of IDPs. One unique and important protection gap for IDPs is the phenomenon of land grabbing which is of a high protection risk. It leads to further impoverishment among poor peasants. Land grabbing takes place frequently on the periphery of countries or on land that has previously held little value for governments or commercial farmers. Government, however, failed to provide oversight to private sector activities, and could not ensure if the rights of people displaced as a result of land transfers are protected or not. This clearly depicts a significant gap in protecting land rights and livelihoods. A second circumstance, highly specific to IDPs, is to distinguish between the protection challenges for forcibly displaced and the protection of civilians in situation of armed conflict. Usually civilians are mainly targeted in most contemporary wars perpetrated by armed non state actors, hence their protection needs are vital, though not the main subject of this study. People affected by armed conflict often seek their own self protection, they are highly vulnerable despite the legal norms and safeguards available in international human rights and humanitarian law. But in case of forced migration, people seek help from IDPs and when the protection of IDPs fails, they protect themselves through migrations across national borders.