IDP Protection Expert Group
The IPEG engages at a senior level with UN leadership and government officials on key protection challenges through country visits, as well as globally through advocacy and communications. Since its establishment in 2021, IPEG delegations have conducted multiple support missions, including to Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Honduras, and facilitated dialogue and knowledge-sharing among States on implementing laws and policies on internal displacement.
Over the past two decades, internal displacement has risen at an alarming rate due to conflict, violence and disasters, including those related to the aggravating effects of climate change. At the end of 2022, there were 71.1 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) worldwide. Not only is this the highest number of IDPs ever recorded, but it is also more than double the number recorded just a decade ago.
The vision of the IPEG is a world where the rights of internally displaced persons are safeguarded and upheld. Its mission is to work towards this vision by providing expert advice, bridging gaps between theory and practice, and fostering innovative approaches to addressing internal displacement issues. The group aims to enhance the effectiveness of responses to internal displacement through collaborative engagement and ensuring the voices and perspectives of displaced persons themselves, as citizens with agency, are heard and incorporated into decision-making processes.
IPEG’s means of engagement
Protection support missions
Through constructive dialogue and mutual learning, IPEG helps build strategic responses to internal displacement.
Post-mission targeted follow-up
IPEG conducts targeted briefings to inform and mobilize coordinated international support on key protection issues.
Global level advocacy
IPEG advocates for improved policies and measures. It uses its platform to shed light on critical issues and promote best practices.
Members of the IDP Protection Expert Group
Under the guidance of the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of IDPs, IPEG’s members include the former mandate holders and other senior experts on internal displacement across a range of specialities, such as IDP law and policy, peace and security, and disaster displacement. The members are:
Paula Gaviria Betancur
Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur was appointed Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons by the Human Rights Council in September 2022 and assumed the mandate on 1 November 2022.
Paula Gaviria Betancur is a human rights lawyer and a forced displacement expert. She currently serves as executive director of Compaz, a non-profit founded by Nobel Laureate Juan Manuel Santos. With over two decades of experience in human rights and humanitarian affairs, she was a member of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement, which worked from 2019 to 2021 to identify concrete recommendations on how to better prevent, respond and achieve solutions to the global internal displacement crisis. She has been an advocate for durable solutions to internal displacement and particularly for the role of the private sector in breaking the displacement cycle.
Ms. Gaviria has over two decades of experience promoting human rights from civil society, the judicial sector, academia, and government. She was the President of Colombia’s Human Rights Advisor (2016-2018). Her role was key in ensuring the victims’ participation in the negotiations. Before that, she supported the preparation and implementation of the country’s 2011 Victims’ Law and directed its Victims Unit (2012-2016), overseeing the development of the Victims Registry. In 2016, she received the World Bank José Edgardo Campos Collaborative Leadership Award. Previously she acted as Director of Human Rights Promotion at the Ombudsman Office of Colombia (2000-2004).
Cecilia Jimenez-Damary served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) from 2016 to 2022, the first woman appointed to the mandate and from a country with IDPs. A Filipino lawyer who specialises in human rights and international humanitarian law, she has over three decades of experience in NGO human rights field work and advocacy in the Asia-Pacific region. She had previously served as National Director of the IDP Project of the Commission on Human Rights of the Philippines, Senior Legal Adviser and Trainer with the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC) in Geneva, among others, and served as the government representative to the Philippine Transitional Justice and Reconciliation Commission for the Bangsamoro.
Ms. Jimenez-Damary holds a Master of Laws (LL.M.) in Public International Law from King’s College London, UK; a Management Development Certificate in International Organizations-MBA programme (MDC) from the University of Geneva, Switzerland; a Bachelor of Laws (LL.B.) from the Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines; and a Bachelor of Science in Foreign Service from the University of the Philippines. She was admitted to the Integrated Bar of the Philippines in 1990.
Ms. Jimenez-Damary is a distinguished legal expert who has made significant contributions to the field of IDP protection and migration, transitional justice, and human rights accountability issues. She has worked with international organisations, governments and national civil society organisations in a variety of contexts, including on the effective use of United Nations human rights mechanisms. She has recently resumed her academic engagement by pioneering the teaching of transitional justice in the Philippines.
Dr Chaloka Beyani served as the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons from 2010 to 2016. He is a highly respected international law expert who has dedicated his career to advocating for human rights, especially for internally displaced persons (IDPs). He has extensive experience in teaching international law, human rights, public law, and criminal law at Oxford University, the University of Zambia, and the London School of Economics, where he currently serves as an Associate Professor of International Law.
Over the years, Dr Beyani has worked with various international organizations, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner on Refugees, the World Health Organization, the United Nations Population Fund, United Nations Development Fund for Women, the European Union, and the African Union. He has also drafted and negotiated numerous international treaties and constitutions, including the African Union Convention on Internally Displaced Persons.
Dr Beyani is a recognized expert in the fields of human rights, international humanitarian law, humanitarian assistance, displacement, climate change, and population transfers. He has been a member of several expert advisory groups, including the United Nations Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and the UK Foreign Secretary's Advisory Group on Human Rights.
Professor emeritus Walter Kälin served as Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons from 2004 to 2010. He has been a Professor of International and Constitutional Law at the University of Bern since 1985 and is presently serving as Envoy of the Chair of the Platform on Disaster Displacement. He was Special Advisor on Internal Displacement to the Resident and Humanitarian Coordinators in Ethiopia and Somalia, and presently serves in this function in Sudan. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Norwegian Refugee Council.
Professor Kälin has extensive experience in international human rights law, humanitarian protection, and refugee law. He is a former member of the United Nations Human Rights Committee and former Special Rapporteur of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights on the situation of human rights in Kuwait under Iraqi Occupation.
Throughout his career, Professor Kälin has acted as a consultant for numerous agencies and organizations, including the Swiss development agency, SDC, UNHCR, UNHCHR, UNDP, and others, on matters of decentralization, human rights, and refugee law.
Peter de Clercq
Peter de Clercq is an internationally recognised expert in the management of humanitarian and development assistance, in particular in displacement contexts. Hailing from the Netherlands, he is a Senior Advisor to UNDP on Internal Displacement, a Visiting Professor at the School of Governance in the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, and a Distinguished Visiting Fellow of the Development and Rule of Law Project, Stellenbosch University, South Africa.
Mr. de Clercq has more than three decades of experience working with the United Nations at various duty stations and retired from the organization at the Assistant Secretary-General level in 2019. He served as the Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti and United Nations Resident Coordinator, Humanitarian Coordinator, and Resident Representative. Mr. de Clercq has also worked with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) for 27 years, holding various positions in its Headquarters in Geneva and Budapest, as well as in field assignments in Angola, Pakistan, Sudan, and Zimbabwe. He was seconded to the Department of Peacekeeping Operations in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and to UNDP in Sudan.
Mr. de Clercq has a wealth of experience in managing political processes, security sector development, operations, and emergency management, protection of civilians, and rule of law, as well as mobilization and management of humanitarian and development assistance.
Professor Jennifer Welsh is the Canada 150 Research Chair in Global Governance and Security at McGill University and the Director of the Centre for International Peace and Security Studies. She is a co-director of the Canadian Research Network on Women Peace and Security and was the co-founder of the Oxford Institute for Ethics, Law, and Armed Conflict.
Welsh has extensive experience in policy processes related to international peace and security and Canadian foreign policy. In 2005, she was the lead writer for the International Policy Statement for the Government of Canada. From 2013 to 2016, she served as Assistant Secretary General and Special Advisor to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon on the Responsibility to Protect, helping to further develop and implement the principle within and beyond the UN system.
Welsh has published several books and articles on the evolution of the notion of the ‘responsibility to protect’ in international society, the protection of civilians, the UN Security Council, and Canadian foreign policy. Her recent publications include The Return of History: Conflict, Migration and Geopolitics in the 21st Century and The Responsibility to Prevent: Overcoming the Challenges of Atrocity Prevention. She is currently co-leading a project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on contemporary challenges to the delivery of humanitarian health responses (including in contexts of migration) and has recently launched a research programme on the ‘localization’ of responses to internal displacement. Welsh has served as a consultant to several organizations including the United Nations, the Government of Canada, and Interpeace. She sits on the editorial boards of the journals Global Responsibility to Protect, International Journal, and Ethics and International Affairs, and on the advisory boards of the Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect and the Auschwitz Institute for Peace and Reconciliation.
Atle Solberg is a political scientist from Norway with a wealth of experience in international humanitarian action and working with displacement situations, both in conflict and natural disaster settings. He is currently the Head of the Secretariat of the Platform on Disaster Displacement, and served as the Head of the Nansen Initiative Secretariat, the predecessor to the Platform on Disaster Displacement, from 2012 to 2015.
Throughout his career, Mr Solberg has worked for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in Switzerland, the Balkans, and Central America, as well as for the Norwegian Refugee Council in the Balkans, Indonesia, and Colombia. He also has research and teaching experience from the University of Bergen on humanitarian issues, as well as the protection of unaccompanied minors. In addition, he has undertaken evaluations of humanitarian aid and worked as a consultant with a focus on Norway and the post-conflict recovery situations in the Balkans and Central America.
Given his extensive experience with displacement situations and humanitarian action, Mr Solberg is a key figure in the global effort to address internal displacement and improve the protection of those affected by displacement due to natural disasters or other hazards.
Nina Birkeland is a Senior Adviser on Disaster Displacement & Climate Change at the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). She has extensive experience working on displacement issues, particularly related to climate change and natural disasters. Birkeland's work has focused on the protection of people affected by displacement, as well as on the prevention of displacement and the search for sustainable solutions.
At the NRC, Birkeland has led the development of the organization's work on displacement and climate change, and has been instrumental in the creation of the NRC's Climate Displacement Program. She has also been involved in various global initiatives related to climate change and displacement, including the Nansen Initiative and the Platform on Disaster Displacement.
Maya Sahli-Fadel is an Algerian jurist who serves as Vice-President of the African Commission on Human and Peoples' Rights (ACHPR). She has been a member of the commission since 2011, where she served as the special rapporteur on refugees, asylum seekers, displaced persons, and migrants in Africa.
Sahli-Fadel has extensive experience as a lawyer, having taught at the University of Algiers since 1981 and at the National School of Magistracy since 2000. She has also worked as a lawyer at the Algiers Bar Association from 1987 to 1994.
In addition to her work with the ACHPR, Sahli-Fadel has served as a member of the United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent from 2008 to 2014, and as a member of the Working Group on the Death Penalty and the Working Group on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights.
Events and Dialogues
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The peer-to-peer exchange among nine States from around the world was convened by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and UNHCR in collaboration with expert facilitators from IPEG and hosted by the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo.
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25th Anniversary of the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Global Online Commemoration
The event included a keynote address by the Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons and a panel discussion featuring her two predecessors, Cecilia Jimenez-Damary and Chaloka Beyani, as well as Ambassador Francis Deng, under whose leadership the Guiding Principles were drafted.
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IDP Protection Expert Group Roundtable: Key Challenges in IDP Protection
IPEG hosted an inaugural roundtable discussion on 'Key Challenges in IDP Protection' at the International Institute of Humanitarian Law in Sanremo. The roundtable explored in depth the recurring challenges in IDP protection that the IPEG observed over the course of three missions to Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Honduras, as well as globally.