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Call for inputs: Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on the right of internally displaced persons to participate in elections


Deadline:
4 February 2022
Issued by:
Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons
Purpose:
To inform the Report of the Special Rapporteur on the human rights of internally displaced persons on the right of internally displaced persons to participate in elections, to be presented to the Human Rights Council at its 50th session, in June/July 2022

The Special Rapporteur will dedicate the thematic section of her 2022 report to the Human Rights Council to the right of internally displaced persons to participate in elections. In line with the thematic priorities she established for the mandate, this report will build on and expand on her first thematic report to the General Assembly dedicated to enhancing the participation of internally displaced persons in decisions affecting them (A/72/202) and will delve into the issue of participation in electoral processes.

The Special Rapporteur requests inputs from Member States and inter-governmental entities, UN agencies, humanitarian, development and peace actors, national human rights institutions, civil society actors, and other stakeholders, to inform the preparation of her thematic report.

This will be the last report of Ms. Cecilia Jimenez-Damary to the Human Rights Council before the end of her tenure in October 2022. She will dedicate part of the report to this theme, and the other part to her reflections on her 2016-2022 tenure and ways forward.

Background

The right to participate in elections in one’s own country, including the right to vote and to be elected, is protected by international human rights law.[1] Participation in elections constitute the primary means through which people exercise their right to participate in public affairs. Other human rights are also essential to enable meaningful participation in an environment conducive to free and genuine elections, such as the freedoms of opinion and expression, peaceful assembly and movement, the freedom from discrimination and equal access to participation, the right to education and the right to security of person, among other rights.[2]

Internally displaced persons do not lose their right to participate in elections or other human rights because of their displacement. They retain the same rights as other citizens and residents of the country. However, they may encounter a number of obstacles to exercise their rights without discrimination because of their displacement.

Electoral processes might be based on laws and policies that can seem unproblematic in normal contexts but have the unexpected effect of discriminating against internally displaced persons. For example, the requirement to register and vote in one’s place of residence might constitute an obstacle for internally displaced persons who are unable to return to their places of origin. Internally displaced persons might not have the civil documents required to register because their documents were lost, destroyed or confiscated during displacement. Those who are able to return to their areas of origin might find that their registration is no longer valid. Internally displaced persons might also face challenges to access polling stations or be at heightened risk of election-related violence.

In some cases, internally displaced persons are intentionally excluded from electoral processes because of their perceived political affiliations. Exclusion may also be based on the fact that internally displaced persons are not considered an electoral constituency of the place where they have sought refuge, and are therefore not a priority of the hosting local government for purposes of political participation.

The level of enjoyment of other human rights can also impact the participation of internally displaced persons in elections, for example where their freedom of movement is restricted or they have insufficient access to information to fully exercise their right to vote and be elected. Specific groups of internally displaced persons may also face multiple and intersecting discrimination to exercise their right to participate in elections, such as minorities, indigenous peoples and persons with disabilities, among others.

In some cases, electoral disputes and exclusion from political participation might even be linked to the root causes of their displacement. Exclusion from political participation also poses obstacles to the sustainable return, local integration or settlement of internally displaced persons elsewhere in the country, perpetuating displacement. Such exclusion can also undermine the legitimacy of governments and, in contexts of crisis where displacement tends to take place, hinder reconciliation and recovery efforts.

The participation of internally displaced persons in elections is key to rebuilding a country impacted by conflict or violence or recovering from disasters and humanitarian crises. Displaced persons have a legitimate interest to take part in their government and influence decision-making processes that will directly affect them and their situation of displacement. They also have valuable perspectives to contribute to decision-making processes that can play a pivotal role in overcoming a situation of crisis. A number of countries have taken measures to enable the participation of internally displaced persons in elections but in many parts barriers remain.

As the attention of the international community is devoted to defining the way forward to resolving the global crisis of internal displacement following the report of the Secretary General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement released in September 2021[3], there is no better time for the Special Rapporteur to delve further on the centrality of human rights and participation in resolving internal displacement. On her concluding year, the Special Rapporteur will report with the same theme that she inaugurated her tenure: the right of internally displaced persons to participate, this time with a focus on electoral participation.

Questions

The Special Rapporteur is interested in receiving inputs on any or all of the following questions, including case studies and specific examples of good practices and challenges:

  1. What are the challenges encountered by internally displaced persons to participate in elections as voters, candidates and other means in your country or in the countries where you work?
  2. What are the particular challenges encountered by internally displaced women and young persons, internally displaced persons with disabilities, internally displaced persons belonging to minority or indigenous groups or other groups?
  3. What measures have been adopted by States to ensure the participation of internally displaced persons in elections without discrimination on the basis of their displacement? Please give examples of specific laws, policies, administrative measures and institutional frameworks adopted.
  4. How has the participation of internally displaced persons in elections, or the lack thereof, had an impact on the prospects of durable solutions to internal displacement in your country or in the countries where you work?
  5. How can humanitarian, development, peace and human rights actors promote and support efforts for the participation of internally displaced persons in elections? Please share specific examples if available.
  6. Are there any other issues related to the topic that you would like to bring to the attention of the Special Rapporteur?

Responses to the above questions can be submitted in English, French or Spanish. Please send your inputs by email to ohchr-idp@un.org by 4 February 2022. Please limit your responses to a maximum of 2,000 words. Reports, academic studies and other types of background materials can be attached as annexes to the submission. Please submit your responses in an accessible format, such as MS Word.

If not stated otherwise in your submission, the responses received will be published on the website of the Special Rapporteur. Unless requested otherwise, the submissions may also be quoted, in part or in full, or referenced in the report and briefings of the Special Rapporteur and related information products. 

The use of personal identifiable information in the submissions should be avoided or, if included, should have the consent of the person concerned for publication and not risk exposing the person to harm.
For any questions or clarifications, please do not hesitate to contact the mandate through the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (ohchr-idp@un.org).



[1] Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 21; International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, Article 25; American Convention on Human Rights, Article 23; American Declaration of Human Rights, Articles XX and XXXII; African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights, Article 13; First Protocol to the European Convention on Human Rights, Article 3; Arab Charter on Human Rights, Article 24; ASEAN Human Rights Declaration, Article 25. In relation to internally displaced persons specifically, see Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, Principle 22, and Kampala Convention, Article IX(2)(l).

[2] See Chapter III on prerequisite rights of OHCHR, Human Rights and Elections, 2021, available at Human-Rights-and-Elections.pdf (ohchr.org)

[3] Shining a light on Internal Displacement: a Vision for the Future, available at Report - UN Secretary-General's High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement (internaldisplacement-panel.org)