Call for Papers - Special IDP Workshop

Friday 6 October 2017


Special Workshop: ‘Revitalising the IDP Field’
20 Years of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement

Refugee Law Initiative, University of London
20 July 2018

Join us for a dedicated one-day workshop to celebrate 20 years of the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement on Friday 20 July 2018 at the Senate House, University of London.

The 20th anniversary of the adoption in 1998 of the UN Guiding Principles offers a unique opportunity to reflect not only on their influence on internal displacement globally but also on the global state of research and practice on internally displaced persons (IDPs).

This special IDP Workshop provides a forum for researchers, practitioners, policy-makers and students to come together to present, debate and reflect on this field and its future. It offers the chance to begin developing new research and policy agendas and collaborations.

Please note that the Refugee Law Initiative (RLI) 3rd Annual Conference will take place over the preceding two days (Weds 18 July – Thurs 19 July). IDP Workshop participants are welcome to participate in the RLI Annual Conference but must register separately for it.



Urgent debate and new thinking on IDPs is required by the sheer scale of the challenges. Since 1998, the Guiding Principles have promoted a common approach to IDPs. Yet over 40 million IDPs remain displaced due to conflict. Over 200 million were displaced due to disasters in just the last ten years. These figures dwarf the number of refugees (22.5 million).

Moreover, with IDPs present in more than 125 countries, attention to IDPs is a major part of the humanitarian effort. Similarly, higher levels of poverty among IDPs means that internal displacement also represents a real challenge for the development and security sectors. Yet a relative paucity of new thinking and research on IDPs marks the past ten years.

The IDP Workshop promotes renewed research on IDPs and internal displacement. Alongside presentations by leading figures in this field, it will host panel sessions to share research and reflections on IDPs from academia and from policy/practice. Paper and panel submissions on ANY aspect of internal displacement are welcomed.

Possible topics include:


  • IDP dynamics, including impacts of internal displacement, relationship to internal migration and urbanisation, IDPs as citizens and political actors, processes of identity formation, agency and self-protection by IDPs, urban IDPs, new displacement trends, e.g. due to organised crime groups in Central America.
  • Disaster and other non-conflict forced displacement, mapping of dynamics and responses, IDPs simultaneously affected by conflict and disasters (e.g. Colombia), role on non-State armed groups in these contexts, links to national and global changes, single ‘IDP’ concept?
  • IDPs in international context, including link between internal and cross-border displacement, situation of returning refugees and migrants, IDPs in regional displacement scenarios, role of third countries in relation to IDPs (e.g. as donors, refugee/migration containment etc.).
  • IDP data and research methodology, including studies contributing to the evidence base and addressing the data gap on IDPs, reflections on how to research IDPs, analysis of how to measure displacement-specific needs, rigorous and contextualised analysis of existing databases (e.g. IOM Displacement Tracking Matrix).


  • IDP law/policy and its future, including implementation of the Guiding Principles, national models for IDP responses, new IDP concepts and future development of ‘IDP law’ at global level, link to refugee and other bodies of law, role of inter/national institutions, need for new processes, a Global Compact on IDPs?


  • How to improve the response to IDPs at UN, regional and domestic levels, including new ideas/coherence on what is needed to move forward, harvesting of best practices, how to make the UN system more efficient and effective (coordination, humanitarian-development nexus etc.), the role of regional organisations in standard-setting and monitoring, how to ensure a whole-of-government approach at the domestic level.


  • Processual challenges, including how to overcome the humanitarian/development gap, how to deal with governments that are responsible for displacing people, morals and politics of IDP attention (e.g. in conflicts),
  • Solutions and internal displacement, including understanding displacement through time as a process, returns and reparations, IDP contribution to peace, prevention of displacement; also links between IDPs, poverty and development, such as IDP contribution/insertion to economy, tackling national poverty via attention to IDPs.


  • New and ongoing operational challenges relating to IDPs, including the meaning of ‘protection’ in the context of internal displacement and how to shape and implement it, pragmatics of access to IDPs, other issues relating to the Cluster system.
  • The Guiding Principles and their legacy, including legal and practical implementation in national and other contexts, emergence of an ‘IDP law’ field, regional approaches such as the 2009 Kampala Convention, prospects for a Global Compact on IDPs.

These are pointers only and we welcome proposals on any aspect of the IDP field.

The selection committee is pleased to invite paper (max. 300 words) and panel proposals (of 3-4 papers). Selection is competitive and based on quality and relevance of the proposal.

Please send proposals to by Monday 22 January 2018. A decision will be returned by 19 February. The decision of the selection committee is final.

Proposals are welcomed from researchers at all stages in their careers.


All attendees, including presenters, will need to register for the IDP workshop as follows:

A. Early Bird - booking completed before or on 1 March 2018: Standard - £45; Student, unemployed etc. - £35; RLI affiliates (DAs, SRAs, MA Refugee Protection students) - £25

B. Non-Early Bird - booking completed after 1 March 2018: Standard - £70; Student, unemployed etc. - £55; RLI affiliates (DAs, SRAs, MA Refugee Protection students) - £40

‘Early bird’ registration is available here.

Participants are responsible for making their own visa, travel and accommodation arrangements, which are not included in the registration fee. However, we can provide details for economical hotels close to the workshop venue.

A limited number of places are available so please book early to avoid disappointment.