Working Paper

BASIC Research Working Paper 6

Beyond Rights-Based Social Protection for Forcibly Displaced People

Published on 21 February 2022

Having a right that is not respected is not the same as having no right at all. At least this should not be the case. Failure to receive something to which you are entitled should lead to formal redress or failing that, protest.

The rights-based discourse has a wider importance. If and when it is or should be used is significant. In terms of access to social protection (including social and humanitarian assistance), the rights-based discourse means there is no difference between refugees and others who fail to receive the protection to which they are entitled, such as Internally Displaced People (IDPs).

This introduces two key tensions, both of which we explore in this paper. The first concerns the identification of the institution responsible for fulfilling the right, as determined in state-led/formal humanitarian system of social protection. The second concerns the alternatives displaced people may identify when Northern mandated forms of social protection fail, or when the conditions for the enjoyment of that protection are too onerous. These alternatives constitute a second system of social protection.

We conclude that although they are unequal, both systems are currently necessary, even as a language of rights is only appropriate in relation to the first tension. Ultimately greater coordination and collaboration between the two systems is necessary.

Cite this publication

Zaman, T.; Collyer, M.; Sabates-Wheeler, R. and Szyp, C. (2022) Beyond Rights-Based Social Protection for Forcibly Displaced People, BASIC Research Working Paper 6, Brighton: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/BASIC.2022.006


Rachel Sabates-Wheeler

Research Fellow

Carolina Holland-Szyp

Research Officer

Publication details

published by
Institute of Development Studies


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