Public Letter Comes in Advance of Release of UN High Level Panel Report on IDPs and Urges Creation of a Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) on IDPs
WASHINGTON—In a letter today, seven former U.S. officials, who have occupied the very most senior refugee and humanitarian positions at the State Department and USAID in recent years, urged UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to take strong action on critical issues impacting tens of millions of internally displaced people around the world.
The letter was issued in the lead up to the expected release, on Wednesday, September 29, of the report of the UN’s High Level Panel (HLP) on Internal Displacement. The Secretary-General established the blue ribbon panel “to identify concrete recommendations on how to better prevent, respond and achieve solutions to the global internal displacement crisis.”
The former officials urge that the Secretary-General establish the position of Special Representative to the Secretary-General (SRSG) to focus solely on internal displacement. The signers note that this position would help to move IDP issues closer to the forefront of the world stage, and that a SRSG would serve as a champion of IDP rights at the global level.
The letter also urges the Secretary-General—
- to amplify the message that states are first and foremost responsible for the well-being and the rights of IDPs, and must include IDPs in national development planning—including national planning around the COVID-19 response;
- to press states and international organizations to connect humanitarian responses and longer-term development efforts, and
- to lead efforts to encourage greater inclusion of internally displaced people in planning, decision-making and execution of programs, funding, and strategies.
According to Refugees International President Eric Schwartz, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration, and one of the co-signers,
The expected release on Wednesday of the UN’s High-Level Panel report on internally displaced people provides an important opportunity for renewed action on these critical issues. The co-signers of this public letter have dealt extensively with these IDP issues, and collectively have logged well over 100 years on humanitarian and displacement concerns. I hope the Secretary-General takes the recommendations of our letter seriously. I also hope that the State Department and USAID reject business as usual and press for action on our call for the establishment of an SRSG.
Arthur (Gene) Dewey
Former Assistant Secretary of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (2002–2005)
Former United Nations Deputy High Commissioner for Refugees (1986–1990)
Former Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (2010-2014).
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (1994–1997)
James N. Purcell, Jr.
Former Director General of the International Organization for Migration (1988–1998)
Former Director of the Bureau for Refugee Programs (1982–1986)
Former Acting USAID Assistant Administrator for Democracy, Conflict, and Humanitarian Assistance (2009–2010)
Anne C. Richard
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (2012–2017)
Former Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration (2009–2011)
Former UN Deputy Special Envoy for Tsunami Recovery (2005-2007)
Contact Refugees International Communications Officer Aviva Shwayder at firstname.lastname@example.org or +1 734 255 8185.
BANNER PHOTO CAPTION: 19-year-old woman is internally displaced and pictured at the headquarters of the NGO ‘Haro – Cameroon’ in Yaounde on February 7, 2020. Photo Credit: AFP via Getty Images.