'Internally Displaced Persons Conference' in Ankara

23 Feb 2006


The United Nations Development Programme launched the Support to the Development of an IDP Program in Turkey project by The Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) Conference in Ankara on 23 February 2006.

The conference, co-organised with the Ministry of Interior as UNDPs main partner in the IDP Project, involved more than 80 participants from the Turkish government, national and international civil society organisations and international organisations. Notably the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General, Dr. Walter Kälin, participated throughout the conference to provide his insights on the global context of internal displacement.

The knowledge and experience presented at the conference provided an opportunity for civil society and state institutions engaged in the IDP issues to benefit from global and national experiences with a focus on legal protection, national responsibilities, property compensation, and the role of civil society.

The conference also provided the opportunity for state and civil society organisations to engage in a dialogue regarding issues of displacement and to strengthen their knowledge and awareness of the issues.

Jakob Simonsen, the UN Resident Coordinator and the UNDP Representative in Turkey inaugurated the conference with a speech in which he emphasised the three main objectives of the conference: 1) to draw on international experiences in dealing with internally displaced persons, 2) to bring together civil society and state institutions in a dialogue on how Turkey can effectively support the needs of IDPs, and 3) to collectively identify steps that Turkey can forward to ensure that IDPs have the rights to enjoy an adequate standard of living.

Walter Kälin delivered the key-note speech on The Legal Protection of IDPs: Origins, Concepts, Challenges and Perspectives. Kälin highlighted that internal displacement is a global issue, facing more than 25 million people in 50 continents. He also noted that the IDPs, as citizens of the country, enjoy the full rights as other citizens including the right to protection and assistance per the UNs Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, which Turkey has accepted.

Recognising that Turkey has taken important strides to address the internal displacement situation in the country, he also noted that internal displacement ends when people can start a new life.

Roberta Cohen, Director of Brookings-Bern Project on Internal Displacement and Rhodry Williams from Brookings Institution were also among the speakers. Dr. Cohen spoke on the issue of national responsibility, underlined that IDPs as citizens have fundamental rights including the right to return or to integrate into a new community.

She also highlighted conditions for sustainable returns, including reconciliation and trust and the need to involve IDPs into the planning process of their future. Mr. Williams provided an analysis of different global experiences regarding compensation, noting that the Compensation Law in Turkey could become a good international practice if it is implemented professionally and transparently.

The meeting also benefited from the participation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, while the Ministry of Interior and a representative of Hacettepe University's Institute of Population studies provided in-depth presentations on the involvement and actions of the Government to identify and address the needs of the IDPs.

The Ministry of Interior of Turkey, represented by Bekir Sitki Dag of the Strategy Development Board, presented the national status of IDP response, highlighting the commitment of the Government of Turkey to engage in meaningful dialogue with civil society in responding to NGO needs.

He underlined that the Governments strategy on IDPs is well described in the ministerial council agreement on principles dated 17 August 2005, which is well aligned to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement.

Hacettepe University Population Studies Institute Director Prof. Sebahat Tezcan informed the audience that the Migration and IDP survey will be finalized shortly and shared with a broad range of stakeholders starting April 2006.

The UNDP manages the IDP project while the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Ministry of Interior and the State Planning Organization are the national partners.

The presentations at the conference: