Dignity is evoked specifically in many humanitarian documents and multiple sectors – including food and cash-based aid, livelihoods, education, health and hygiene, shelter, protection and psychosocial support. The Sphere Handbook promotes the overall principles of ‘the right to life with dignity, the right to receive humanitarian assistance and the right to protection and security’, and the first core tenet of the Humanitarian Charter is that those ‘affected by disaster or conflict have the right to life with dignity and, therefore, the right to assistance’. Dignity is also mentioned in documents specifically focused on displacement, such as the Guiding principles on internal displacement and the Handbook on voluntary repatriation.
The goal of this project is not to define dignity. As noted in the literature review underpinning this project, even if a concrete definition of dignity could be agreed, its meaning and application would depend heavily on context, thus making a single definition unhelpful in most situations. Instead, this project seeks to provide a better understanding of what dignity means to the displaced in different places at different times, to help humanitarian action accomplish what it so often sets out to do – to uphold the dignity of the displaced. This series, focusing on displacement in Afghanistan, Colombia, the Philippines and South Sudan, contributes four contextual examples of what dignity in displacement means, and accompanies the case studies on the Rohingya in Bangladesh and Syrians in Lebanon that inform this project.