Legal status of Internally Displaced Persons in international law

Document Type : Original Article


1 (Master of International Law, Shahid Beheshti University

2 (Assistant Professor of law, Islamic Azad university, Karaj Branch)



One of the challenges of the 21st century is the massive flow of Internally Displaced Persons who have been forced to flee their homes as a result of armed conflicts, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights, natural or human-made disasters, or execution of development and infrastructure projects and seek safe shelters within the borders of their country. Unlike refugees who cross international borders and benefit from a special legal status under international law, IDPs remain within the borders of their home country thus granting them a legal status analogous to refugees face with uncertainty. This article seeks to examine the legal status of IDPs under international law and find out if they benefit from a distinct legal status or not. By investigating different approaches and examining the definition of IDPs in the light of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, it is concluded that this group does not enjoy a special legal status in international law. The increased number of IDPs proves that there are still some major gaps and challenges that need to be overcome.


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