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Beijing Platform for Action. Chapter IV – Paragraph 147(b)


Author(s): Scott Douglas Jacobsen

Publication (Outlet/Website): The Good Men Project

Publication Date (yyyy/mm/dd): 2019/03/05

Strategic objective E.5.

Provide protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women

Actions to be taken

147. By Governments, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and other institutions involved in providing protection, assistance and training to refugee women, other displaced women in need of international protection and internally displaced women, including the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and the World Food Programme, as appropriate:

b. Offer adequate protection and assistance to women and children displaced within their country and find solutions to the root causes of their displacement with a view to preventing it and, when appropriate, facilitate their return or resettlement;

Beijing Declaration (1995)

Paragraph 147 section (b) is an integral one, as many are, for the inclusion of women and children in the support systems and networks of the world. We can see the issues of vulnerability for displaced women. Noted in the last session, the 21 million or more women and girls displaced within the contexts here. OCHA Services (Relief Web) stated, “New estimates published for the first time today reveal that at least 21 million women and girls were uprooted within their countries by conflict and violence by the end of 2018.”

The Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, according to the UNHCR, described the internationally displaced people as “persons or groups of persons who have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence, in particular as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, violations of human rights or natural or human-made disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized border.” Imagine being in this circumstance, life would be precarious, uncertain, desperate, and ill-fated – poor luck of the draw based on the Law of Averages and the consequences of human decisions and human actions writ large, when excluding natural disasters.

The Beijing Declaration, as Alexandra Bijak, described as a document setting a tone for the rights work here. When we look at the internally displaced women and the refugee women, who are cut off from their own Member State’s infrastructural networks for a variety of reasons, the consequences for their lives and livelihoods, and the next generations affected, are devastating. “Adequate protection and assistance” seems vague and a copout to me, but let’s work it.

However, the positive intent assumption is an affirmation of the ways in which women and children in displaced circumstances can acquire some help with the needs of their lives. When displaced in your country, the infrastructure may not support you in full, or at all. And as such, the lack of proper support will disproportionately affect the more vulnerable – the more in need – sectors of societies when cut off.

Those more in need tend to be the women and the children of most societies. As stated by the World Health Organization, “Vulnerability is the degree to which a population, individual or organization is unable to anticipate, cope with, resist and recover from the impacts of disasters. Environmental health in emergencies and disasters: a practical guide” (W.H.O., 2002).

One might question, “But who? Who are these so-called ‘vulnerable people’ found in the world?” Further, “Isn’t this just globalist, internationalist, propaganda to undermine the strong and righteous nation-state?” Good questions, it comes from some standard considerations of vulnerability. One complaint from the Left is mockery and dismissal of the issue; one complaint from the Right is the oversensitivity and polysyllabic academicism of the issue. Both seem right.

The W.H.O. takes the vulnerable, in general terms, to mean children, “pregnant women, elderly people, malnourished people, and people who are ill or immunocompromised.” The idea of the vulnerable in this sense comes in the form of the consideration of those vulnerable to more or greater negative health outcomes based on particular eventualities.

For example, if we look into the cases of natural or human-made disasters, then we can look at the level of disease-burden on this population. The young and the old and the immunocompromised amount to populations less able in times of immune system proper response needs or physical, even mental, demands. Those who are poor will be impacted by poverty, homelessness, poor housing if any housing, and the like, which impacts those with already compromised physical, immune, and mental states even further.

Any “adequate protection and assistance” in this setting for the vulnerable would include these populations of women: young girls, elderly women, and immunocompromised women. If we take the stated number from before, then there are 21 million. It is a  large number and of those; a significant number will be disproportionately left from the internal support mechanisms of the society.

Internally displaced people or IDPs are like but not the same as refugees in the sense of being from the country, being in the nation, while not having left the Member State in any sense while being completely disconnected from the support networks and mechanisms, and personnel, found in societies:

IDPs stay within their own country and remain under the protection of its government, even if that government is the reason for their displacement. They often move to areas where it is difficult for us to deliver humanitarian assistance and as a result, these people are among the most vulnerable in the world.

In short, they are in society, but, now, not of it. Even in the cases of assistance or help, they cannot acquire this because of the displacement; humanitarian assistance becomes difficult to get to them, as they can be left in some of the more remote and least desirable parts of society. Not necessarily Chernobyl Ground Zero, but, still, some difficult areas to live and to be part of the regular national areas of support.

When we look at the UNHCR descriptions of the numbers of internally displaced people around the world, the numbers are 41.6 million based on reportage from IDMC or the Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.

At the end of 2018, some 41.3 million people were internally displaced due to armed conflict, generalized violence or human rights violations, according to the rnal Displacement Monitoring Centre (IDMC). The UNHCR, further, states:

UNHCR exists to protect and assist everyone who has been affected by forced displacement, including IDPs. We assume a coordination and operational delivery role in IDP situations to ensure protection is central to our work in order to prevent further displacement. We also provide life-saving assistance and work to identify solutions for displaced communities.

In these IDP contexts, both the Beijing Declaration and the UNHCR consist of different manifestations of a unified vision working on protection, assistance, or both, for the purposes of protecting the IDPs and the Beijing Declaration as a self-limiting form of this, having an emphasis on women more often. Men can be vulnerable, but, more often, in several of these contexts may not be comparable to women and children here. We can consider different environments, for example, with the homelessness problems in North America with the majority of the victims being men in the society, probably much to do with untreated mental illness and callous indifference.

Similarly with IDP contexts in many countries, these large-scale – think “41.3 million” – issues of displacement are going to have many highly vulnerable women and girls – think “21 million.” Paragraph 147 (b) focuses on the prevention of displacement in the first place while also having some consideration for the return of the individuals to the structures and networks of the society, including “resettlement.”

How this may happen can differ from context to context, however, the fact that this is an emphasis and is taking place is what’s important, and necessary, for the protection of the international rights of women.

–(Updated 2019-08-21, only use the updated listing, please) Not all nations, organizations, societies, or individuals accept the proposals of the United Nations; one can find similar statements in other documents, conventions, declarations and so on, with the subsequent statements of equality or women’s rights, and the important days and campaigns devoted to the rights of women and girls too:


In-Sight Publishing by Scott Douglas Jacobsen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License. Based on a work at


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