Regional approaches to the governance of internally displaced persons: a case study of the African union in Kenya
The study analyses regional approaches to the governance of internally displaced persons as a special category of people who require unique protection and humanitarian intervention owing to the fact that they have not crossed borders thus cannot be effectively governed by international legal regimes on refugee governance. The study was inspired by the realization that the African Union has pioneered Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) Governance by putting in place a regional convention on protection and assistance to IDPs out of the realization that the continent has large numbers of internally displaced persons who require a structured regional intervention if their protection is to be effective. The study is guided by the principle that countries individually and collectively have a responsibility to protect IDPs that is centralized on the universality of human rights, the theory of legal and moral obligation to help those who have been systematically displaced, structurally dispossessed and functionally abused, regardless of their position on the globe. The choice of the African Union is largely informed by the conflict systems theory which underscores how conflicts can be regional and thus unique in that context and the realization that most internal displacements in Africa are as a result of the conflicts in the continent. The study applied both qualitative and quantitative approaches while using key informant interviews, focus group discussions and i t equally gathered data through individual questionnaires. Identification of respondents was done through a non- probabilistic sampling of a cross section of stakeholders in the area of IDP governance including victims themselves, policy makers and humanitarian workers that included those working for local and international NGOs. The study set to test the following hypotheses, (i ) H- AU approaches to internal displacement does not protect IDPs which is the negative hypothesis (ii) H1-African Union as regional organization is effective in the protection of IDPS and its governance which is the positive hypothesis (iii) H2-African Union as a regional organization tries to protect IDPs but is ineffective which is null hypothesis. The study findings confirmed both the negative and null hypothesis, which calls for the establishment of a legal and structural framework by AU to try and improve IDP governance among its member states by urging them t o ratify and domesticate the African Union convention for the Protection and assistance of Internally Displaced Persons. In conclusion, the study acknowledges that regional approaches undertaken through regional bodies to protect and improve IDP governance have not been effective and therefore recommends a number of steps to be ta ken to realize the same albeit with a lot of legal and political challenges. That despite AU pioneering the same, it is only real commitment by member countries that will realize tangible results in this area. The study also recommends academic focus to be given to this area to distinguish it from refugee governance because mixing the two has been largely responsible for the invisibility of the IDPs governance in policy and academic research.