Humanitarian Resource Documents

Affected Populations


From the UNHCR: "The 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees is the key legal document in defining who is a refugee, their rights and the legal obligations of states." The 1951 Convention and its 1967 Protocol are legally binding international treaties, from which the global definition of a refugee is derived, as any person who:

“owing to well-founded fear of being persecuted for reasons of race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion, is out-side the country of his nationality and is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to avail himself of the protection of that country; or who, not having a nationality and being outside the country of his former habitual residence as a result of such events, is unable or, owing to such fear, is unwilling to return to it.”

The 1967 Protocol lifted the temporal and geographic restrictions of the 1951 Convention, which was focused on post-World War II Europe, making the refugee law global and enduring.

At a regional level there is also the Cartagena Declaration, adopted by ten Latin American countries, primarily in Central America. Although it is not binding like the 1951 Refugee Convention or 1967 Protocol, the Cartagena Declaration is notable for expanding the definition of a refugee in a Central American context.

Internally Displaced Persons

From the UNHCR: "Internally displaced persons, or IDPs, are among the world's most vulnerable people. Unlike refugees, IDPs have not crossed an international border to find sanctuary but have remained inside their home countries. Even if they have fled for similar reasons as refugees (armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights violations), IDPs legally remain under the protection of their own government - even though that government might be the cause of their flight. As citizens, they retain all of their rights and protection under both human rights and international humanitarian law." 

Unlike with refugees, there is no universal, legally-binding, international treaty specifically regarding the treatment of IDPs.  However, there are guiding principles, which serve as an important normative framework at the global level:

At a regional level, there are legally binding agreements regarding IDPs, applicable in areas of Africa: 

Stateless Persons

From the UNHCR: "Nationality is a legal bond between a state and an individual, and statelessness refers to the condition of an individual who is not considered as a national by any state."

Additional Resources

The U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees is mandated to lead and coordinate international action to protect refugees and resolve refugee problems worldwide. Its primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. However, UNHCR’s formal mandate was expanded in 1995 to also “identify stateless people, prevent and reduce statelessness around the world, as well as to protect the rights of stateless people.” (Source:

Civil-Military Coordination

UN-CMCoord References

In Peacetime Disaster Response

In Conflict

Country- and Area-specific guidance

Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)



Libya/North Africa

U.S. Whole of Government Approach

Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA)/ US Agency for International Assistance (USAID) Publications

Department of Defense Publications

Disaster Management

U.S. All-hazards Response Frameworks and Guidelines

International Disaster Response

Disaster Risk Reduction

The Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction 2015-2030 is a major international agreement that outlines seven global targets and four priorities for action for states to improve disaster risk reduction and disaster preparedness.  The Sendai Framework is a voluntary, non-binding agreement, which succeeds the Hyogo Framework for Action (HFA) 2005-2015 to continue building disaster resilience. 

Health Security

Humanitarian Logistics

International Law

Human Rights Law

International Humanitarian Law

  • Geneva Conventions and Protocols
    1. Convention (I) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded and Sick in Armed Forces in the Field (1949)
    2. Convention (II) for the Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded, Sick and Shipwrecked in Armed Forces at Sea (1949)
    3. Convention (III) Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1949)
    4. Convention (IV) Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (1949)
    5. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Armed Conflicts (Protocol I, 1977)
    6. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Protection of Victims of Non-International Armed Conflicts (Protocol II, 1977)
    7. Protocol Additional to the Geneva Conventions of 12 August 1949, and Relating to the Adoption of an Additional Distinctive Emblem (Protocol III, 2005)

International Disaster Response Law

Response Minimum Standards (MOEs / MOPs)