Any crisis, whether caused by conflict or disaster, almost inevitably uproots people from their homes. In 2015 a staggering 60 million people were either refugees in other countries or internally displaced persons (IDPs) in their own countries, as a result of conflict or violence – the highest figure since World War II. In addition, every year some 29 million people are displaced by natural disasters.
For most of these refugees and IDPs, displacement is a protracted plight, lasting several years or even decades. Primary responsibility for addressing and resolving displacement rests with the government of the affected country or countries. Where government authorities lack adequate capacity or political will to do so, the international community has an important role to play in promoting and supporting an effective response. No single international organization has a mandate to cover the wide range of needs that arise in displacement; a multi-sector coordinated response is needed.
Early recovery has a significant role to play at all stages of displacement. Inclusive and effective democratic governance, conflict prevention and disaster-risk reduction are essential to preventing the crises that cause displacement. When crises nonetheless erupt, early recovery programming is key to reducing the vulnerabilities faced by displaced populations and strengthening their resilience. Early recovery programming in all its dimensions – livelihoods, infrastructure repair and rehabilitation, good governance and capacity strengthening – are also essential to creating the conditions enabling displaced persons to find a safe and sustainable solution to their displacement, whether by returning home or settling elsewhere, and to begin to rebuild their lives.
The Global Cluster for Early Recovery (GCER) has been designated by the Secretary-General to support, with the Global Protection Cluster, more coherent, predictable and effective approaches to ensuring safe and sustainable solutions for IDPs and returning refugees. To this end, in countries emerging from crises, a durable solutions strategy for IDPs and returning refugees is to be developed and implemented under the leadership of the UN Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator (RC/HC) in partnership with national stakeholders. The GCER supports such field-level processes. This may include technical assistance in the development of guidance and by deploying Early Recovery Advisers (ERAs) who can support RC/HCs to lead the Humanitarian Country Team in developing a durable solutions strategy.
In October 2011 the UN Secretary-General adopted a Decision on Durable Solutions and an accompanying Preliminary Framework on Ending Displacement in the Aftermath of Conflict. The Guide (English; Spanish) was developed in accordance with the SG’s Decision to design guidance for field-based practitioners on how to develop a strategy for supporting durable solutions for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) and refugees returning to their country of origin. It identifies nine key steps to guide the process of developing a strategy and provides benchmarks for monitoring progress towards durable solutions. While the SG Decision explicitly refers to “ending displacement in the aftermath of conflict” it is relevant to other displacement situations. Disasters, generalized violence, human rights violations and development related displacement similarly require a rights-based approach and a collective, coherent and coordinated response. The Guide was piloted in 2015 in Afghanistan, Cote d’Ivoire and Kyrgyzstan and is currently being rolled out in countries developing strategies on durable solutions for displaced persons. The Guide will be reviewed in 2017 with lessons learned and feedback on its use.
In support to the Guide on Durable Solution Strategy two tools have been developed 1) an introductory PowerPoint to the Preliminary Guide on DS Strategy and 2) a checklist intended as an indicative, general overview, following the logical flow of recommended steps in developing a joint durable solutions strategy for displacement.
The Durable Solutions handbook aims at providing a practical methodology for a bottom-up approach to durable solutions planning, based on durable solutions targets identified by displacement affected communities at decentralized level, in post-conflict or post-disaster settings. It is developed in response to the feedback received on the use of the Preliminary Operational Guide on Durable Solutions, which was published in 2016 in implementation of the 2011 Decision of the Secretary-General on Durable Solutions calling for guidance in developing durable solutions strategies for IDPs and returning refugees.
The Durable Solutions handbook can be used in any situation where a conscientious decision has been taken by relevant stakeholders at national or decentralized level – preferably authorities - to seek durable solutions to the situation of IDPs and returnees. Possible triggers of such a decision include peacebuilding efforts; social, economic and political reconstruction and rehabilitation efforts after a conflict or natural disaster; the halt or scaling down of humanitarian assistance to IDPs and returnees; the closure of displacement sites or the eviction of IDPs and returnees from sites. It can also be triggered by a genuine commitment of national or local authorities to end protracted displacement in order to achieve development goals. Political will and drive from national and local authorities are prerequisites for achieving or working towards durable solutions. Their leadership and support are key in the initiation, development and implementation of durable solutions plans, if they are to be sustainable. The role of the international community and partners complements the authorities’ efforts by assisting in the removal of political and legal obstacles, and supporting the implementation of sustainable measures towards durable solutions.