United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland
Practice Relating to Rule 132. Return of Displaced Persons
The UK Military Manual (1958) provides that if the occupant does transfer protected persons outside the limits of occupied territories, then “as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased, they must be transferred back to their homes”.
In 1994, during a debate in the UN Security Council on the situation in Abkhazia, the United Kingdom stated that the “safe return [of displaced persons] will be a vital ingredient in restoring peace and stability in Georgia”.
In 2003, in a reply to a written question in the House of Commons on the “forced repatriation of Chechen internally displaced persons from their displacement camps in Ingushetia”, the UK Minister of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, wrote:
The UK has played a prominent role in international efforts to press the Russian Government to halt the closure of internally displaced persons camps in the North Caucasus. Bilaterally, we have informed the Russian Government that the suspension of food, water and energy supplies to the camps constituted, in our view, a forced closure and reminded Russia of her obligations under the 1951 UN Convention on Refugees. The UK has also initiated and helped draft a number of EU demarches, calling for the closure of the camps to be stopped. We were therefore encouraged by President Putin’s statement last month that the closures should be halted. However, we will continue to monitor the situation closely and take further action if necessary.
In 2003, in a letter to the President of the UN Security Council, the permanent representatives of the United Kingdom and the United States stated:
The United States, the United Kingdom and Coalition partners, working through the Coalition Provisional Authority, shall inter alia, provide for security in and for the provisional administration of Iraq, including by: … facilitating the orderly and voluntary return of refugees and displaced persons.
In 2003, during a debate in the UN Security Council, the UK representative stated:
The right of refugees and displaced persons to return to their homes must be accepted in theory and in practice. Political norms and human rights must be developed in Kosovo on a par with the best European standards. In the view of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, only then can Kosovo move forward in a stable, peaceful manner, developing coexistence on its territory and better relations with its neighbours.
In 2004, in a written answer to a question concerning, inter alia, discussions with the Government of the Sudan relating to the situation in Darfur, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
We are gravely concerned by the forced relocations of people in camps in Darfur. This appears to be a breach of international humanitarian law, as well as the established mechanisms on relocations. We have repeatedly made clear to the Government of Sudan that all returns must be voluntary and appropriate and carried out with full and prior consultation with the international community, as agreed in the Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Sudan and the International Organisation for Migration.
In 2004, in a written answer to a question concerning representations made to the Government of Sudan, the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Foreign and Commonwealth Office, stated:
We … regularly raise the need for it to ensure the protection of all civilians – including displaced persons – in Darfur, and to adhere to the UN Guiding Principles on Internal Displacement, including on the need for all returns to be voluntary and appropriate.