Internal displacement in the African continent is one of the most demanding challenges today. Finland strongly supports the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons in Africa and encourages all African Union member states to ratify the Kampala Convention.
The Permanent Mission of Finland co-hosted a policy forum together with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, the International Peace Institute and the Permanent Mission of Kenya in New York on 14 November. The forum was entitled “The Kampala Convention and internal displacement – an essential international legal framework for more than 20 million people”.
Internal displacement is one of the most demanding challenges today. It leads to increased poverty, human suffering and inequality, especially in the African continent. The Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa, the so-called Kampala Convention, was adopted in October 2009. It is the first legally binding regional instrument in the world to contain the obligation to protect and assist internally displaced persons. The Convention is based on the fundamental principle that the primary responsibility to provide protection and assistance to internally displaced persons (IDPs) belongs to the states. As a result of persistent efforts, 14 countries have ratified the Convention so far.
In his address, Ambassador Jarmo Viinanen, Permanent Representative of Finland, noted that the Kampala Convention is a milestone achievement. He stated that internally displaced persons are among the most vulnerable people in humanitarian crises and that Finland strongly supports the Kampala Convention and the Plan of Action for implementing it. Finland supported the organization of the first ECOWAS Ministerial Conference on Humanitarian Assistance and Internal Displacement, which took place in Abuja earlier this year. Finland is truly committed to promoting the rights of the IDPs. This year Finland has channeled around 90 million euros to humanitarian assistance, of which more than half has been allocated to Africa. Finland encourages all African Union member states to ratify the Convention as soon as possible.
All panelists voiced their concern on the difficult situation of IDPs. The need to strengthen the legal framework through wide adherence to the Convention was strongly highlighted. The need for effective implementation of the Convention was also underlined. It is important to bear in mind the regional aspect relating to the Kampala Convention. By adopting the Convention, the countries have shown commitment and leadership to overcome challenges related to the IDPs. Yet much remains to be done. Even though international support is crucial, only strong African ownership and determined action to implement the Convention can lead to genuine progress and development.