U.S. Statement at the
Interactive Dialogue with Special Rapporteurs on Violence Against Women
and Internally Displaced Persons
As Prepared for Delivery
June 17, 2014
The United States thanks Special Rapporteur Chaloka Beyani for his report on the human rights of internally displaced persons. The report rightly takes pains to highlight the importance of durable solutions for IDPs. The United States wishes to express appreciation to Special Rapporteur Rashida Manjoo for her continuing work on violence against women.
As Special Rapporteur Beyani’s report accurately notes, IDPs are often excluded from development initiatives. IDPs who are not housed in camps are most at risk of falling from view. The camps themselves pose special problems. They too easily grow from temporary relocation centers into established, semi-permanent settlements.
The report notes the danger that camps and their populations may become “invisible” or “an inconvenience that national authorities seek to remove by closure or demolition of facilities.” When governments close camps and provide cash grants, there is little chance for successful integration of the displaced. Only if the grants are directly linked to “livelihood and other sustainable strategies” do they represent meaningful solutions for IDPs.
Given the need to include IDPs in development strategies, the United States believes that they should be considered in the development of indicators for the post-2015 development agenda, in particular those relating to education, work, water and sanitation, and safe and affordable housing in cities. What role do you anticipate playing in the remaining post-2015 development agenda negotiation process?
In his report, Special Rapporteur Beyani quotes Special Rapporteur Manjoo on the violence disproportionately directed at displaced women and girls. The same report notes, however, that displaced women often take on leadership roles not just in the family, but in the community as well. Where this occurs, this is indeed positive and noteworthy.
However, we must also note that too often, this is not the case. There are many documented cases where women – even when they constitute a large majority of the population in an IDP community – are excluded from leadership roles.
Unfortunately, it is still generally men who continue to be assigned, in consultations with the international community, the role of “leader” in distribution of food, medicine, clothing and other necessities. This institutionalizes and increases the dependence of women on men. In some places, the distribution centers are located far from the camp. This increases the risk that women will be subjected to violence while traveling to or from the center. They may also be forced to exchange or sell rations to pay for assistance in collecting food, water, and fuel.
Please explain your views of the nexus between the lack of leadership opportunities and the levels of violence against women and girls among IDP populations in both camp and other settings. Is there evidence that levels of violence against displaced women and girls drop once women have access to leadership? If so, what should be done to expand leadership opportunities for women in IDP populations?