Africa is marking today the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the African Union Convention for the Protection and Assistance of Internally Displaced Persons in Africa. Also known as the Kampala Convention, this ground-breaking treaty has so far been ratified by 28 countries on the continent.
As the world’s first and only continent-wide legally binding instrument for the protection and assistance of internally displaced persons (IDPs), the Kampala Convention is a testament to the determination of African States to address the multiple challenges of IDPs. The treaty incorporates the basic elements of the 1998 UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement and outlines the responsibilities of States and other actors.
Internal displacement remains a significant problem in countries across Africa, with more than 17.8 million people being displaced by conflict and violence. Women and children constitute the vast majority of those affected.
We fully recognize the role and contribution that the Convention has made in preventing displacement across Africa, providing effective responses to displacement crises and supporting solutions for displacement situations, whether triggered by armed conflicts, violence or the effects of climate change and disasters.
We also welcome and support the decision of the Assembly of the African Union to declare 2019 as the ‘Year of Refugees, Returnees and Internally Displaced Persons: Towards Durable Solutions to Forced Displacement in Africa’. This commemorative decision is an important opportunity to take stock of progress in implementing the Convention and identify outstanding challenges.
Now is the time to fully translate the Kampala Convention into practice. We applaud all countries that have ratified the Convention and taken concrete steps to realize the spirit and letter of the treaty, including through developing relevant national laws and policies. We welcome the latest accession by the Republic of South Sudan to the Convention and call on all those that have not ratified and domesticated the Convention to do so without delay.
We also welcome the announcement earlier today of the United Nations Secretary-General to establish a High-level Panel on Internal Displacement to increase global attention and advance solutions for internal displacement.
We furthermore call on member States of the African Union, international organizations and other partners to support the full and effective participation of both displaced and host communities in the implementation of the Convention. We also call on the international community to do more to strengthen its assistance and solidarity with countries and communities coping with internal displacement, including through a more collaborative and strategic approach and innovative financing mechanisms.