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Foreword

The human being is born as free and honorable. None whosoever has the right to demean him/her or alien their own inherent dignity. Since the human nature necessitates respecting such dignity, keeping it away from any kind of humiliation and degradation, and promoting it, this nature stands as a guarantee to achieve a favorable state of fairness and liberality necessary for the stability and peaceful coexistence among all members of the human family.

Basically, human rights are interrelated and constitute one integrated whole. Dissociating or acting discriminately with human rights for the purpose of denying or neglecting them is a disrespect to the human dignity, as well as a violation to the morals of justice and equality among people and to human rights. Discrimination and political bias subvert the United Nations effects for establishing human rights. This results in misuse and distortion in interpretations of the international laws and conventions regarding refugees, especially 1951′s Geneva Refugee Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee, which is necessarily applicable to the question of Palestinian refugee. This also prevents refugees from obtaining their recognized rights. What is more, the interpretations of the United Nations Refugee Agency set confining and unfair conditions on Palestinian refugees, compared to the protection and rights given to all refugees around the world, which preserve their basic rights.

Given all that mentioned above, Palestinian refugees seem to be excluded from the rights approved by international laws for refugees, and from the guarantees called for by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They, in the viewpoint of these interpretations, do not have within the international system any mechanism to preserve their rights just as other refugees. And what they only are to be given is a minimized level of assistance. This all reflects an intentional weakness in the role of the United Nations actions in human rights, and also a legal contradiction between the interpretation of the Refugee Agency and other international legislations related to the rights of Palestinian refugees, and to human rights in general.

The goal of the proposed effort, which depends, for the most part, on legal studies, is for Palestinian refugees to take advantage of the international laws for refugees as an effective instrument to protect their rights, including the international protection as part of a permanent solution that empowers Palestinian refugees to turn back to their homes and livelihoods. This effort, and the resulting action, is also an important question for human right advocates and activists.

We do not work under or through any political body or international organization framework. Everyone from the Palestinian or other countries is welcomed to join us, regardless of their political or religious position.

Brief Summary

I. United Nations International Agencies for Palestinian Refugees:

1) United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA):

An international agency of the United Nations which provides relief and assistance to refugees from Palestine. Established upon the General Assembly’s Resolution 302, it provides the Palestinian refugees with welfare services such as food, clothing and housing. Its functions include providing health care, educational and social services. It is not officially entitled to take on the duty of protection.

The agency has five operation regions: Gaza Strip, the West Bank, Jordan, Lebanon and Syria (Egypt and Iraq are not included in its operation scope).

2) United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP):

Established by a recommendation in the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 194, this Commission consists of three countries: USA, France and Turkey. It is an international agency whose responsibility is to provide protection to and preserve the rights of the Palestinian refugees and to work out a fair solution to the Palestinian refugee problem, according to the 194 Resolution (right of return, retrieving rights and compensations), under the principle of refugees’ individual choice.

The United Nations have failed to provide international protection needed to the Palestinians via UNCCP. It stopped work in 1952 after it completed listing and archiving the rights of refugees.

3) Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR):

It works to provide protection and assistance to all refugees around the world. The basic system of UNHCR is organized by the United Nations General Assembly’s Resolution 428 (D-5).

Relevant to the issue and in relation to the situation of the Palestinian refugees, the international Convention Relating to the Status of Refugee states in Article (1-D):

Article (1-D) Clause No. 1:

This Convention shall not apply to persons who are at present receiving from organs or agencies of the United Nations other than the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees protection or assistance.

Article (1-D) Clause No. 2:

When such protection or assistance has ceased for any reason, without the position of such persons being definitively settled in accordance with the relevant resolutions adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations, these persons shall ipso facto be entitled to the benefits of this Convention.

II. How the Office of Commissioner for Refugees Handles the Rights and Problems of the Palestinian Refugees:

Statutory Overview:

Clause No. 7 of the Charter of the Refugee Agency stipulates that, “The trusteeship of the High Commissioner shall not be presented to any person who still receives protection or assistance from organs or agencies of the United Nations”. What is basically meant here are UNRWA and UNCCP.

But the Refugee Agency interprets Article (1-D), mentioned earlier, in combination with Clause No. 7 of the Agency’s Charter and the statutes of UNRWA, considering it as exceptional clause. Besides, the Refugee Agency avoids any interpretation to the rights of refugees associated to the cease of UNCCP’s work and to the General Assembly’s Resolution 194, “which involves their right of protection”.

This, obviously, is an incorrect interpretation of the law, the clauses of the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and the Commission entitled to the Office of the High Commissioner.

Historical Overview:

Subsequent to Israel’s refusal to allow for the return of any refugee, the UNCCP’s mission was downgraded from being a committee assigned to protect the rights, properties and interests of the refugees to one that reflects the minimal level of concern from the United Nations with issues of the Arab-Israeli conflict, which is still unsettled. It was deactivated in 1952 after completing the listing and documentation the rights of refugees.

Also, Arab countries opposed from the beginning the intervention of the United Nations Refugee Agency, since that could possibly cause the Palestinians to lose their right of return. To compensate, the Arab League instead enacted the Casablanca Protocol relating to the treatment of the Palestinians in some member states. This protocol determined a set of guidelines in terms of facilitating the employment and resettlement of refugees and issuing travel documents for them. However, reservations from certain countries resulted in some limitation and inadequacy in implementation.

Just after the Second Gulf War, in 1991, the Arab League member states adopted Resolution 5093, which allowed governments to treat the Palestinian refugees in accordance with the national legislations and regulations which a hosting state enacts and considers as suitable.

Furthermore, Western countries interpret the convention relating to the rights of refugees as meaning that those who seek a new nationality are not liable to be resettled as refugees in the Third World countries. These countries want to overcome the problem of refugees by resettling them in the territories in which they have taken residence, and to avoid the effects of Resolution 194, which requires enforcing the personal choice made by a refugee with his own free will as a permanent solution. One of three possibilities should be officially selected, most importantly with completely free choice: to be returned to one’s country of origin, to be resettled in the hosting country (incorporation into the new community), or to be resettled in another country. Willingness and independent decision are of great importance.

III. Reinterpreting Conditions Suitable to the Palestinian Refugees:

Clear language and explicit statement in the title “Convention of Refugee Rights” was used to ensure that constant protection is provided and several organizations and instruments are involved.

By the provision of the assignment in Clause No. 2 of the aforementioned Act relating to the Status of the Palestinian Refugees, Office of the Refugee Agency has been entitled the responsibility of compensating them for the cease of protection and help in case either two agencies (UNRWA and UNCCP) failed to provide them. This implies that protection and help, if stopped, become the duty of the Refugee Agency, all at once, exclusively and with no special conditions.

IV. Summary:

The Agency is officially entitled and given high power to work on monitoring and accomplishing the requirements of solutions as well as relevant international statutes and conventions, and also monitoring and accomplishing any decided solutions for the Palestinian refugees.

The inactivity of UNCCP nullifies the construction of the alternative system or law mentioned in Article (1-D). Therefore, the international Convention for Refugees per se, with all warranties and payments it secures to other refugees, applies equally to the Palestinian refugees, too.

These principles involve a refugee’s right to officially register one of three permanent solutions available by this law to all refugees. Free choice and independent will are the components of the decision made in terms of any refugee. These solutions are: to be driven back to one’s home land, to be resettled in the hosting country (included into the local community), or to be resettled in another country.

Any Palestinian refugee applying to protection and asylum from the Agency has the right that whenever the protection or help is lacked for one reason or another, he must legislatively be provided with protection and assistance directly and automatically by the High Refugee Agency.

The abstention of the United Nations Refugee Agency from fulfilling the assignment stated in the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, which stipulates providing protection to the Palestinian refugees, and its refusal to the claim applications of the refugees are a formal, planned destruction to their rights.

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