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Protection of internally displaced persons: soft law as a norm-generating mechanism


Internal displacement is increasingly perceived as an international problem. This has led to suggestions that international norms have begun to govern state behaviour towards their own displaced populations. I argue that this change occurred through the innovative use of soft law, in particular the guiding principles on internal displacement, by a consortia of norm entrepreneurs including NGOs and a UN Office, that of the Representative of the Secretary-General for Internally Displaced Persons. As soft law, these principles lack the usual markers which suggest an emerging norm. Instead, the article argues that alternative methods – including the international recognition of the principles and their adoption in domestic legislation – has triggered a change in state behaviour. This is demonstrated by examining two cases of forcible return of IDPs – the closure of the Kibeho Camp in Rwanda in 1995, before the principles were created, and the closure of the Znamenskoye camp in Ingushetia, Russia in 2002, after their creation. Both situations are similar in that the norm appears to have been rejected – forced repatriation did occur. In the Russian case, however, government statements, along with widespread international condemnation of the closures, suggest rhetorical instantiation of a norm of non forcible return for IDPs.

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1 Roberta Cohen and Francis M. Deng, Masses in Flight: The Global Crisis of Internal Displacement (Washington, D.C.: Brookings Institution Press, 1998), p. 275; Guy S. Goodwin-Gill, The Refugee in International Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1996), p. 264.

2 UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees: Human Displacement in the New Millennium (London: Oxford University Press, 2006), p. 156; Benjamin Valentino, Paul Huth and Dylan Balch-Lindsay, ‘“Draining the Sea”: Mass Killing and Guerrilla Warfare’, International Organization, 58 (2004); Phil Orchard, ‘The Perils of Humanitarianism: Refugee and IDP Protection in Situations of Regime-Induced Displacement,’ Refugee Survey Quarterly, forthcoming.

3 Erin Mooney, ‘The Concept of Internal Displacement and the Case for Internally Displaced Persons as a Category of Concern’, Refugee Survey Quarterly, 24 (2005), pp. 14–6.

4 Peter Salama, Paul Spiegel and Richard Brennan, ‘No Less Vulnerable: The Internally Displaced in Humanitarian Emergencies’, The Lancet, 357 (2001).

5 Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink, ‘International Norm Dynamics and Political Change’, International Organization, 52 (1998), p. 903.

6 The principles define IDPs as: ‘persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized State border.’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), ‘Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’ (New York: OCHA, 1999).

7 Francis M. Deng, ‘Introductory Note by the Representative of the Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons’, in Ibid., p. iii.

8 UN, ‘In Larger Freedom: Towards Development, Security and Human Rights for All, Report of the Secretary-General’ (New York: UN, 2005), p. 51.

9 UN General Assembly, ‘2005 World Summit Outcome’, (2005), p. 29.

10 UNHCR, ‘2008 Global Trends: Refugees, Asylum-Seekers, Returnees, Internally Displaced and Stateless Persons’ (Geneva: UNHCR, 2009), p. 3; Cohen and Deng Masses in Flight, p. 3; Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre [IDMC], Global Overview of Trends and Developments in 2008’ p. 8.

11 Bruce Cronin, Institutions for the Common Good: International Protection Regimes in International Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2003), p. 164 fn.

12 As Eleanor Roosevelt argued in the General Assembly, ‘internal refugee situations[…] were separate problems of a different character, in which no question of protection of the persons concerned was involved.’ General Assembly Official Record, 4th Sess., Third Committee, Summary Record (1949), p. 110. Cited in Catherine Phuong, The International Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 23.

13 UNHCR data: {} (figures since 2007 include people in refugee-like situations and are not directly comparable); UNRWA data: Report of the Commissioner-General of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, A/35/13, 30 June 1980, and Annually 1982–2007. Reports available at the UN Information System on the Question of Palestine, {}, accessed 10 April 2009. Data for 1981 is missing, and has been extrapolated from 1980 data based on annual growth rate of 2.2 per cent. See BADIL Annual Growth Rate of Registered Palestinian Refugees (1953–2000), {}, accessed 10 April 2009; IDP Data: US Committee for Refugees, World Refugee Survey [Yearly 1997–2004] (Washington D.C.: US Committee for Refugees); IDMC, Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments, [Yearly 2004–2008] (Geneva: Norwegian Refugee Council, 2005–2009); Norwegian Refugee Survey, Internally Displaced Persons: A Global Survey (London: Earthscan Publications, 1999), p. 28.

14 Norms are defined as shared understandings of appropriate behaviour for actors with a given identity which isolates a single strand of behaviour. Ronald Jepperson, Alexander Wendt and Peter Katzenstein, ‘Norms, Identity and Culture in National Security’, in Peter J. Katzenstein (ed.), The Culture of National Security: Norms and Identities in World Politics (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), p. 52.

15 Finnemore and Sikkink, ‘International Norm Dynamics’, p. 897; see also Ethan A. Nadelmann, ‘Global Prohibition Regimes: The Evolution of Norms in International Society’, International Organization, 44 (1990), pp. 479–84.

16 Ibid., p. 897.

17 Joshua W. Busby, ‘Bono Made Jesse Helms Cry: Jubilee 2000, Debt Relief, and Moral Action in International Politics’, International Studies Quarterly, 51 (2007), p. 251.

18 Ann Florini, ‘The Evolution of International Norms’, International Studies Quarterly, 40 (1996), p. 378; Richard M Price, ‘Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines’, International Organization, 52 (1998), p. 616.

19 Jeffrey T. Checkel, Ideas and International Political Change: Soviet/Russian Behaviour and the End of the Cold War (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1997), p. 9; Peter M. Haas, ‘Introduction: Epistemic Communities and International Policy Coordination’, International Organization, 46 (1992).

20 See Michael N. Barnett and Martha Finnemore, Rules for the World: International Organizations in Global Politics (Ithaca, N.Y.; London: Cornell University Press, 2004).

21 The refoulement of refugees, or their expulsion or return to a country where their lives would be in danger, is explicitly prohibited in Article 33 of the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees.

22 I am mindful of Jeffrey Legro's criticism (‘Which Norms Matter? Revisiting the ‘Failure’ of Internationalism.’ International Organization, 51 (1997), pp. 33–4) that early constructivist work tended to suffer ‘from a bias toward the norm that worked.’ As a counterpoint, see Richard M Price, ‘Transnational Civil Society and Advocacy in World Politics’, World Politics, 55 (2003), p. 601.

23 Judith Goldstein, Miles Kahler, Robert Keohane and Anne-Marie Slaughter, ‘Introduction: Legalization in World Politics’, International Organization, 54 (2000), p. 399; Finnemore and Sikkink, ‘International Norm Dynamics,’ p. 900; Sanjeev Khagram, James V. Riker and Kathryn Sikkink, Restructuring World Politics: Transnational Social Movements, Networks, and Norms (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002), p. 15.

24 Andrew P. Cortell and James W. Davis, ‘Understanding the Domestic Impact of International Norms: A Research Agenda’, International Studies Review, 21 (2000), p. 66; Kenneth W. Abbott and Duncan Snidal, ‘Hard and Soft Law in International Governance’, International Organization, 54 (2000), p. 428; Thomas M. Franck, The Power of Legitimacy among Nations (New York: Oxford University Press, 1990); Harold Hongju Koh, ‘Why Do Nations Obey International Law?’, The Yale Law Journal, 106 (1997).

25 Soft law, as C. M. Chinkin has noted, can range from treaties with only ‘soft obligations (“legal soft law”), to non-binding or voluntary resolutions and codes of conduct formulated and accepted by international and regional organizations (“non-legal soft law”), to statements prepared by individuals in a non-governmental capacity, but which purport to lay down international principles.’ ‘The Challenge of Soft Law: Development and Change in International Law’, International and Comparative Law Quarterly, 38 (1989), p. 851.

26 John J. Kirton and Michael J. Trebilcock, ‘Introduction: Hard Choices and Soft Law in Sustainable Global Governance’, in John J. Kirton and Michael J. Trebilcock (eds), Hard Choices, Soft Law: Voluntary Standards in Global Trade, Environment and Social Governance (Burlington: Ashgate Publishing, 2004), p. 6.

27 Nicholas Bayne, ‘Hard and Soft Law in International Institutions: Complements, Not Alternatives’, in Kirton and Trebilcock (eds), Hard Choices, Soft Law, p. 348.

28 Jeffrey T. Checkel, ‘Norms, Institutions, and National Identity in Contemporary Europe’, International Studies Quarterly, 43 (1999), p. 555.

29 Abbott and Snidal, ‘Hard and Soft Law,’ pp. 434–50.

30 Dinah Shelton, ‘Introduction: Law, Non-Law and the Problem of “Soft Law”’, in Dinah Shelton (ed.), Commitment and Compliance: The Role of Non-Binding Norms in the International Legal System (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2000), p. 13.

31 Kirton and Trebilcock, ‘Hard Choices and Soft Law,’ p. 5.

32 Simon Bagshaw, Developing a Normative Framework for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons (Ardsley, New York: Transnational Publishers, Inc., 2005), pp. 102–3.

33 Thomas Risse and Kathryn Sikkink, ‘The Socialization of International Human Rights Norms into Domestic Practice’, in Thomas Risse and Kathryn Sikkink (eds), The Power of Human Rights: International Norms and Domestic Change (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 15.

34 Andrew P. Cortell and James W. Davis, ‘When Norms Clash: International Norms, Domestic Practices, and Japan's Internalisation of the GATT/WTO’, Review of International Studies, 31 (2005), p. 3.

35 Kai Alderson, ‘Making Sense of State Socialization’, Review of International Studies, 27 (2001), p. 418.

36 Koh, ‘Why Do Nations,’ pp. 2653–7.

37 Cortell and Davis, ‘Understanding the Domestic Impact of International Norms’, p. 70.

38 Francis Deng, ‘Statement by Dr. Francis Deng, Representative of the Secretary-General for Internally Displaced Persons to the 52nd Session of the UN Commission on Human Rights’, (Geneva, Commission on Human Rights, 1996).

39 Walter Kälin, ‘The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement as International Minimum Standard and Protection Tool’, Refugee Survey Quarterly, 24 (2005), p. 29.

40 Kälin, ‘How Hard Is Soft Law? The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and the Need for a Normative Framework’, Ralph Bunche Institute Roundtable, City University of New York, 19 December 2001, {} p. 4, accessed 8 November 2007; Thomas G. Weiss and David A. Korn, Internal Displacement: Conceptualization and Its Consequences (Oxford: Routledge, 2006), p. 61.

41 Brookings Institution – SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, ‘Taking Stock and Charting the Future: International Symposium on the Mandate of the Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons’ (Vienna: Brookings Institution-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, 2002).

42 General Assembly Official Record, 4th Sess., Third Committee, Summary Record (1949), 110. Cited in Phuong, International Protection, p. 23; see also OCHA Internal Displacement Unit, No Refuge: The Challenge of Internal Displacement (Geneva: UN Publications, 2003), p. 15.

43 OCHA Internal Displacement Unit, No Refuge: The Challenge of Internal Displacement (Geneva: UN Publications, 2003), p. 15.

44 Phuong, International Protection, p. 23.

45 UNHCR, UNHCR's Operational Experience with Internally Displaced Persons (Geneva: UNHCR, 1994), p. 3. The first UN resolution to approve such activities, passed by the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and the General Assembly in 1972, authorised UNHCR operations in Sudan with the goal of assisting ‘resettlement of refugees returning from abroad as well as of persons displaced within the country.’ UN General Assembly Res. 2958 (XXVII), 12 December 1972; Goodwin-Gill, Refugee in International Law, p. 264.

46 Bagshaw, Developing a Normative Framework, p, 72; Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, p. 16.

47 Ibid., pp. 72–3; OCHA Internal Displacement Unit, No Refuge, p. 20; UNHCR, ‘Review of the CIREFCA Process’, (Geneva, UNHCR: 1994).

48 UN ECOSOC Res. 1990/78, 27 July 1990.

49 Roberta Cohen and Jacques Cuenod, ‘Improving Institutional Arrangements for the Internally Displaced’, (Brookings Institution; Refugee Policy Group Project on Internal Displacement, 1995), p. 2.

50 US Committee for Refugees, ‘April is the Cruellest Month: The Flight of the Iraqi Refugees’, Refugee Reports, XII Mar–Apr (1991), p. 1.

51 Thomas G. Weiss, Military-Civilian Interactions: Intervening in Humanitarian Crises (Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999), p. 50.

52 Ibid., p. 52; Cohen and Deng, Masses in Flight, p. 3.

53 Daniel Schorr, ‘Ten Days That Shook the White House’, Columbia Journalism Review, 30 (1991), p. 23.

54 George H. W. Bush, ‘Remarks on Assistance for Iraqi Refugees and a News Conference’, 16 April 1991, in John T. Woolley and Gerhard Peters (eds), The American Presidency Project, {}, accessed 1 May 2008.

55 Ibid.

56 US Committee for Refugees, ‘The Flight of the Iraqi Refugees’, p. 3.

57 UN Security Council Resolution S/RES/688, 5 April 1991; Thomas G. Weiss and Cindy Collins, Humanitarian Challenges and Intervention (Boulder: Westview Press, 2000), p. 25.

58 OCHA Internal Displacement Unit, No Refuge, pp. 16–7.

59 Ibid., p. 19.

60 Bagshaw, Developing a Normative Framework, pp. 75–6.

61 Ibid., p. 76.

62 Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, pp. 22–3.

63 Francis Mading Deng, ‘The Global Challenge of Internal Displacement’, Washington University Journal of Law and Policy (2001), p. 141.

64 Deng suggested that in order to be legitimate, a government must demonstrate responsible sovereignty by providing protection for people and if unable, to call upon the international community to assist: ‘under exceptional circumstances when governments fail to discharge this responsibility,’ he argues ‘the international community should step in to provide the needed protection and assistance […]’ Francis M. Deng, ‘Promoting Responsible Sovereignty in Africa’, in Francis M. Deng and Terrence Lyons (eds), African Reckoning: A Quest for Good Governance (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1998), p. 3.

65 Deng, ‘Global Challenge’, p. 145.

66 Sadako Ogata, ‘Foreword’, in UNHCR (ed.), The State of the World's Refugees (Geneva: UNHCR, 1996), p. xi.

67 Bill Frelick, ‘Aliens in Their Own Land: Protection and Durable Solutions for Internally Displaced Persons’, in US Committee for Refugees (ed.), World Refugee Survey, 1998 (Washington D.C.: US Committee for Refugees, 1998).

68 Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement.

69 Cohen and Deng, Masses in Flight, p. 169.

70 Roberta Cohen, ‘Nowhere to Run, No Place to Hide’, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (2002), pp. 40–3.

71 Cohen and Deng, Masses in Flight, pp. 170–2. The Emergency Relief Coordinator, who is also the head of OCHA, coordinates emergency relief between the various UN agencies. The IASC is composed of the heads of the major UN humanitarian and development agencies and departments and two NGO consortia. Deng sat as a member following this change. UN, ‘Background of the IASC’; Roberta Cohen, ‘Nowhere to Run, No Place to Hide’, p. 143.

72 Simon Bagshaw and Diane Paul, ‘Protect or Neglect: Towards a More Effective UN Approach to the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons’, (New York: Brookings-SAIS Project on Internal Displacement, OCHA, 2004), p. 5.

73 Elizabeth Stites and Victor Tanner, ‘External Evaluation of OCHA's Internal Displacement Unit: Final Report’, (New York: OCHA, 2004), p. 5.

74 Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, p. 116–7; see also Dennis McNamara, ‘The Mandate of the Emergency Relief Coordinator and the Role of OCHA's Interagency Internal Displacement Division’, Refugee Survey Quarterly 24 (2005), pp. 65–7.

75 Dennis McNamara, ‘Humanitarian Reform and Institutional Responses’, Forced Migration Review FMR-Brookings-Bern Special Issue (2007), p. 10; UNHCR, ‘The Protection of Internally Displaced Persons and the Role of UNHCR’ (Geneva: UNHCR, 2007), p. 11.

76 Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, p. 142.

77 While the resolution (CHR 1993/95) passed unopposed, some states, including Sudan, voiced concerns over the issue of state sovereignty. Bagshaw Developing a Normative Framework, p. 81.

78 For a fuller discussion of the two studies, see Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, 57–60; Deng ‘Introductory Note’, p. iii.

79 Cohen and Deng, Masses in Flight, p. 74.

80 Phuong, International Protection, p. 53.

81 Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement, ‘Summary Report of the International Colloquy on the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Vienna, Austria’ (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 2000).

82 Kälin, ‘Minimum International Standard’, p. 28.

83 Kälin, ‘How Hard is Soft Law?’, pp. 4–6.

84 The resolution was adopted by consensus with 55 co-sponsors, including a number of countries with IDP problems, and in spite of concerns that this introduced a danger of ‘standard setting by the back door.’ Bagshaw Developing a Normative Framework, p. 134.

85 Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Resolution 1998/50: Internally Displaced Persons. 17 April 1998.

86 CHR Resolution 2000/53: Internally Displaced Persons. 25 April 2000.

87 CHR Resolution 2002/56: Internally Displaced Persons. 25 April 2002. The Human Rights Council (HRC) has adopted similar language. HRC Resolution 6/32: Mandate of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the human rights of internally displaced persons. 14 December 2007.

88 UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/56/164: Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons. 20 February 2002.

89 Ibid., A/RES/58/177: Protection of and assistance to internally displaced persons. 12 March 2004.

90 Brookings Institution Project on Internal Displacement ‘Summary Report’.

91 Mooney, ‘Concept of Internal Displacement’, p. 166. These include the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE), the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the Organisation of American States (OAS), and the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe. Roberta Cohen, ‘The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: An Innovation in International Standard Setting’, Global Governance, 10 (2004); UN CHR, ‘Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin’ (Geneva: CHR, 2006), p. 18; UN HRC, ‘Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin’ (Geneva: HRC, 2009), p. 4–5.

92 Jessica Wyndham, (‘A Developing Trend: Laws and Policies on Internal Displacement’, Human Rights Brief, (2006), p. 8.) notes that these laws and policies have followed four models: ‘1) a brief instrument adopting the Guiding Principles; 2) a law or policy developed to address a specific cause or stage of displacement; 3) a law or policy developed to protect a specific right […] and 4) a comprehensive law or policy addressing all causes and stages […]’.

93 UN HRC, ‘Report of the Representative’, 2009 p. 6.

94 Notes: In some cases, more than one piece of legislation or policy has been passed. In those cases, year of adoption of the first policy is used. Sources: *IDMC, Internal Displacement: Global Overview of Trends and Developments, 2006–7 (Geneva: Norwegian Refugee Council, 2007/8), pp. 90–5. All figures rounded to the nearest thousand. Where IDP figures are represented by a range, I have used the low estimate. ^ 2007 data. # 2006 data. **Wyndham, ‘A Developing Trend’, 8–9; Brookings Institution-University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement, ‘National and Regional Laws and Policies on Internal Displacement Database’, 2008, {} accessed on 5 August 2008.

95 This remains an area where little comparative research of government implementation policies has been done, and is a fruitful area for future research. For an exception, see John Borton, Margie Buchanan-Smith, and Ralf Otto, ‘Support to Internally Displaced Persons – Learning from Evaluations’ (Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Stockholm, 2005), pp. 77–82.

96 Constitutional Court Decision T-327, cited in Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre, ‘Known References to the Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement’ (2005).

97 A 2004 judgment found that the state of IDP assistance and protection in Colombia was ‘unconstitutional and summoned the State to address promptly the structural causes […]’ while a follow-up decision in 2006 required the government to produce more comprehensive indicators on its implementation of the earlier law. UN HRC, ‘Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin’, Addendum: Mission to Colombia (Geneva: HRC, 2007), p. 9; Josef Merkx, ‘Evaluation of UNHCR's programme for internally displaced people in Colombia’ (Geneva: UNHCR Evaluation and Policy Analysis Unit, 2003), p. 7.

98 Brookings Institution – University of Bern Project on Internal Displacement/ Republic of Uganda, ‘Workshop on the Implementation of Uganda's National Policy for Internally Displaced Persons, Kampala, Uganda, 3–4 July 2006’ (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2006), p. 12.

99 Roberta Cohen, ‘Northern Uganda: National and International Responsibility’ (Washington D.C.: Brookings Institution, 2007), p. 3.

100 International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, ‘Protocol on Protection and Assistance to Internally Displaced Persons’ (2006); Chaloka Beyani, ‘Recent Developments: The Elaboration of a Legal Framework for the Protection of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa’, Journal of African Law, 50 (2006), pp. 187–97.

101 UN HRC, ‘Report of the Representative of the Secretary-General on the Human Rights of Internally Displaced Persons, Walter Kälin’ (Geneva: HRC, 2010), p. 7; UNHCR, ‘Kampala Convention signatories reaches Twenty’, {} accessed 12 Feb 2010.

102 Roberta Cohen, ‘Nowhere to Run, No Place to Hide’, pp. 40–1; India has asserted that the principles were not legally binding and that international action should be with the consent of the country concerned. Statement by A. Gopinathan, cited in Roberta Cohen, ‘Some Reflections on National and International Responsibility in Situations of Internal Displacement’, in O. Mishra (ed.), Forced Migration in the South Asian Region: Displacement, Human Rights & Conflict Resolution (New Delhi: Jadavpur University and Manak, 2004), p. 4. China has asserted that ‘the Guiding Principles are not UN principles because they have not been officially adopted by the UN’, as have Egypt and Syria. Cohen, ‘Some Reflections’, p. 4; Press Release GA/SHC/3676, 29 Nov 2001.

103 The only vote held on the principles was an indirect mention in the General Assembly in 2000. It received over 100 votes in approval, but 31 abstentions, demonstrating that some governments do harbour reservations. Weiss and Korn, Internal Displacement, p. 112.

104 Walter Kälin, ‘Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement: Annotations’, Studies in Transnational Legal Policy, 32 (2000), p. v.

105 Principle 15 in OCHA ‘Guiding Principles’.

106 Kälin, ‘Annotations’, pp. 37–9. This view is disputed. Catherine Phuong, (International Protection, p. 61) argues that this principle goes beyond existing international law, but that ‘this bold and extensive reinterpretation of the law […] fills some of the gaps which exist in the current legal framework.’

107 Cortell and Davis, ‘Understanding the Domestic Impact of International Norms’, p. 71; see also Vaughn P. Shannon, ‘Norms Are What States Make of Them: The Political Psychology of Norm Violation’, International Studies Quarterly, 44 (2000), pp. 300–3. Alice Ba, (‘On Norms, Rule-breaking, and Security Communities: A Constructivist Response’, International Relations of the Asia-Pacific, 5 (2005), p. 260) adds that when norm violating actions lead to international criticism, ‘offending states have often felt compelled to justify – if not modify – their actions. Had no norm existed, there would be weaker grounds for critique and little pressure on states to justify their actions.’ My thanks to an anonymous reviewer for this point.

108 The principles are ‘without prejudice to individual criminal responsibility under international law, in particular relating to genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes.’ OCHA, Guiding Principles, p. 1. Therefore, persons suspected of serious offences cannot avoid prosecution and punishment ‘simply on account of their being internally displaced […]’ Kälin, Annotations, p. 7.

109 Stephanie T. E Kleine-Ahlbrandt, ‘The Kibeho Crisis: Towards a More Effective System of International Protection for IDPs’, Forced Migration Review (1998), p. 8; Larry Minear and Randolph Kent, ‘Rwanda's Internally Displaced: A Corundum within a Corundum’, in Roberta Cohen and Francis Mading Deng (eds), The Forsaken People (Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution, 1998), pp. 64–5.

110 Kleine-Ahlbrandt, ‘The Kibeho Crisis’, p. 8.

111 Ibid., pp. 8–9.

112 Ibid., p. 9.

113 This was in spite of significant evidence that the death toll was much higher. The UN mission in Rwanda altered its initial estimate of 4,050 dead after a ‘more scientific’ recount to 2,000 dead, even though it also issued a confidential report accusing the RPA ‘of digging up and secretly removing corpses from the Kibeho camp in order to conceal the exact number of fatalities.’ This accusation was supported by the Fédération Internationale des Ligues des Droits de l'Homme and Human Rights Watch. Johan Pottier, Re-Imagining Rwanda: Conflict, Survival and Disinformation in the Late Twentieth Century (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2002), pp. 160–2; Médecins Sans Frontières, ‘Report on Events in Kibeho Camp, April 1995’ (1995).

114 Kleine-Ahlbrandt, ‘The Kibeho Crisis’, pp. 9–10.

115 Ibid., p. 10.

116 Françoise Bouchet-Saulnier, ‘Using the Laws of War to Protect the Displaced’, in Médecins Sans Frontières (ed.), MSF Activity Report 2000–2001 (Paris: 2001).

117 Médecins Sans Frontières, ‘MSF Condemns Relocation of Displaced Chechens’ (7 July 2002).

118 UN Office of the Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict, ‘Press Release: UN Envoy Welcomes Firm Assurances Concerning Voluntary Return of Displaced Chechen Populations’, (New York: UN, 24 June 2002).

119 US Department of State, ‘US Policy on Chechnya: Steven Pifer, Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs Statement before the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe’ (19 May 2002).

120 Médecins Sans Frontières, ‘Condemns Relocation’.

121 OCHA, ‘Humanitarian Action in the North Caucasus – Russian Federation Information Bulletin 1–31 July’, (2002). The acting UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Rosemary McCreery, inspected the temporary accommodation centres and found that they were close to their maximum capacities and lacked running water and sufficient sanitary conditions. UNICEF, ‘Situation Report No. 47: UNICEF Humanitarian Assistance in the Northern Caucasus 27 July-9’, (2002).

122 UN Press Release, 23 July 2002.

123 Agence France-Presse, ‘Russian to Shut Chechen Refugee Camps by End of Autumn: Minister’, 2002.

124 Council of Europe, ‘Twenty-First Interim Report by the Secretary General: Human Rights, Civil Rights and Freedoms in the Chechen Republic’, 17 September 2002, p. 5.

125 Human Rights Watch, ‘Spreading Despair: Russian Abuses in Ingushetia’ (2003), p. 5.

126 Ibid., pp. 5–6.

127 Marcin A. Piotrowski, ‘Russia's Security Policy’, in Janusz Bugajski (ed.), Toward an Understanding of Russia: New European Perspectives (New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 2002).

128 Jacob W. Kipp, ‘Putin and Russia's Wars in Chechnya’, in Dale R. Herspring (ed.), Putin's Russia: Past Imperfect, Future Uncertain (New York: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2003), p. 191. The Russian state controlled a significant portion of the mass media, and took action against broadcasters who questioned government policy. Masha Lipman and Michael McFaul, ‘Putin and the Media’, in Herspring (ed.), Putin's Russia.

129 Kipp, ‘Putin and Russia's Wars,’ p. 177; Dale R. Herspring and Peter Rutland, ‘Putin and Russian Foreign Policy’, in Herspring (ed.), Putin's Russia, p. 240.

130 Ibid., p. 194.

* An earlier version of this article was presented in a panel at the International Association for the Study of Forced Migration Conference in Cairo, January 2008. I would like to thank Brian L. Job, Richard M. Price, Katharina P. Coleman, Lesley M. Burns, Victoria Colvin, and Tania Keefe for their comments. I would also like to thank two anonymous reviewers for their helpful suggestions.

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Review of International Studies
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