PROTECTING THE HUMAN
RIGHTS OF RETURNEES
United Nations human rights operations have an essential role to fill in monitoring and
protecting the human rights of returnees and internally displaced persons. People
displaced within their own country can be particularly vulnerable to violations of their
human rights and may need a specific form of human rights protection.
Human rights officers can address the human rights protection needs of returnees and
IDPS at several levels: during the period of displacement itself; in preparation for a
return home; during a return process; and after a return, during a period of
re-integration. At all stages, it is essential that human rights officers be familiar with the
specific threats with which returnees and IDPs may be confronted, and with the relevant
international law which provide protection against those threats.
1. This chapter focuses on the human rights situation of returning refugees (returnees) and internally displaced persons (IDPs) — it thus concerns the human rights of persons who are displaced from their homes, but who are within their own country. After highlighting the particular relevance of international human rights standards to the protection of these categories of people, the chapter also seeks to identify ways in which UN human rights field operations can respond to their needs.
2. People who are within their own country and experiencing displacement may spend this period in any number of different situations. Public attention is often drawn the most rapidly to displaced persons living in camps, usually because large