Project : UNHCR Colloguium
General information
Title UNHCR Colloguium

Project description:
Joint Council of Europe / UNHCR Colloquium on the Role of Regional Human Rights Courts in Interpreting and Enforcing Legal Standards for the Protection of Forcibly Displaced Persons

Forcibly displaced persons is a term which covers a wide range of situations in which people have been forced to abandon their home areas for reasons which vary from civil war to regions made unsafe because of criminal activities related to drug trade. The term has been taken into use relatively recently, though the various situations covered by it have of course occurred on many occasions throughout history. The term is not yet firmly anchored in international law, but widely accepted and used by both international organizations and among the NGO community. Numerous non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are involved in the protection of the human rights of people who have, for one reason or the other, been forcibly displaced from their home regions and thereby their individual homes. It is indeed a natural task for human rights NGOs to assist forcibly displaced persons and consequently many well known human rights NGOs are involved in this work, among these Amnesty International, the European Council of Refugees and Exiles (ECRE), the International Association of Refugee Law Judges (IARLJ) and the Norwegian Refugee Council, to mention but a few. Such civil society organizations are often well placed to provide both concrete grassroots assistance and to be active in advocacy work, promoting vulnerable people’s rights in the shade of government policies. Unfortunately insufficient state resources, inadequate levels of preparedness or simply lack of political will sometimes prevent governments from effectively providing much needed support to larger numbers of forcibly displaced persons – and in such situations assistance by civil society becomes even more crucial. While emergency assistance by civil society to forcibly displaced persons is often indispensible, be that in the form of food, shelter or something else to cover their immediate basic needs, it is nonetheless essential for NGOs active in the field to know what the relevant international human rights norms are with regard to forcibly displaces persons, so that they can in addition to emergency aid also give pertinent advice to the people they are helping. To ensure that NGOs involved in supporting forcibly displaced persons are kept abreast of the developing international legal protection standards in the field, the National Human Rights Structure Unit of the Council of Europe Directorate General of Human Rights and Legal Affairs has as part of its activities in support of civil society contributed to the preparation of a Joint Council of Europe / UNHCR Colloquium entitled the Role of Regional Human Rights Courts in Interpreting and Enforcing Legal Standards for the Protection of Forcibly Displaced Persons. The colloquium, to be held from 15 to 16 June 2011 in Strasbourg, will bring together for the first time three regional supranational human rights courts and/or commissions: The European Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Court and Commission of Human Rights and the African Commission of Human and Peoples’ Rights. Apart from practitioners from civil society, such as representatives of all the NGOs mentioned above, senior representatives of the three Human Rights courts and associated structures, along with UNHCR and other experts, will have the chance to discuss how the three Continent’s human rights systems and legal instruments contribute to the protection of the rights of displaced persons. The three human rights Conventions interpreted by these courts, namely the European Convention on Human Rights, the American Convention on Human Rights and the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, and their respective case law concerning forcibly displaced persons, will be explained and compared during the colloquium. Particularly attention will be paid to the application of these human rights standards to refugees and other forcibly displaced persons through the regional courts and/or commissions, regarding: - Access to regional human rights mechanisms for protection from refoulement, - Protection of people fleeing conflict and generalized violence - Protection of economic and social rights.

  • Concept Paper and Programme
  • List of Participants