Global Protection Risks

Unlawful Impediments or Restrictions to Freedom of Movement, Siege and Forced Displacement

This protection risk refers to all restrictions and barriers to freedom of movement, including situations of isolation, siege, forced displacement and any situation when a person does not have free choice related to movements. All restrictions to freedom of movement are unlawful, are subject to strict criteria under human rights law and must be provided for by law, be considered necessary and proportionate to achieve a legitimate aim (such as protect national security or public order, health or morals, or the rights or freedoms of others), and be non-discriminatory and consistent with other human rights. Impediments to freedom of movement in a displacement context can take different forms, andforms and relate with to harmful conditions of safety and dignity of the population that are not properly prevented, responded or redressed by responsible authorities. Forced displacement occurs when individuals and communities have been forced or obliged to flee or to leave their homes or places of habitual residence as a result of or in order to avoid the effects of events or situations such as armed conflict, generalized violence, human rights abuses, natural or man-made disasters, and/or development projects. It both includes situations where people have fled as well as situations where people have been forcibly removed from their homes, evicted or relocated to another place not of their choosing, whether by State or non-State actors. The defining factor is the absence of will or consent. Siege can be understood as the military encirclement of an area with the imposition of restrictions on the entry and exit of essential goods with the aim of forcing its surrender.

What factors must be identified for monitoring? 

While monitoring this protection risk, it is important to report on all types of attacks, whether they are intentional or unintentional, directly or indirectly causing harm to civilian population and objects or perpetrated by State or non-State actors. It is also fundamental to identify whether attacks are indiscriminate: 1) when they do not distinguish between military and civilian population or objects (e.g. bombing a highly populated area); 2) whether the use of methods or means of warfare cannot be directed at a specific military objective; 3) the effects of which cannot be limited, (e.g. the use of cluster munitions in densely populated urban areas, the use of biological weapons and the use of mines in populated urban areas). It is essential as well to identify when attacks are disproportionate, when a party to the conflict carries out an attack on a military target which can be expected to cause loss of civilian life or injury to civilians or damage to civilian objects, which would be excessive (disproportionate) in relation to the concrete and direct military advantage anticipated (principle of proportionality). This risk is often the cause or driver of the other 14 protection risks. 


What information & data can illustrate the presence of the risk? 

Generally, in situation of armed conflict there is a wealth of information on incidents, consequences of attacks and targeting. This data and information may be found beyond the monitoring done by the protection sector and requires a thorough analysis of primary and secondary sources. Civilians injured, killed, or incidents with direct impact on civilians or civilian infrastructure can be identified through: protection of civilian mechanisms, cluster-specific monitoring and data, research and analysis centres, human rights monitoring mechanisms and partners, media, protection monitoring, UN mission dedicated mechanisms, and national bodies. Often it may not be possible to have precise numbers or statistics on attacks, due to access and other constraints. It is therefore important to use observation, expert judgement, triangulate available information, and ensure the reporting on the protection risk, independently from available statistics.


You can download the definition here.