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Action

I. Premises

When to be a refugee?

Unfamiliar may it sound, the question is of great importance from a practical perspective. The problem occurs as a result of the relationship between the international statute for refugees and the “interpretive” statute of the United Nations Refugee Agency or local laws. While conventions relating to refugees include clear definitions of individuals who may be classified as refugees, such conventions do not include mechanisms for implementation. Therefore, the task of determining those falling under the definition is left to interpretations and policies of the Agency or the local law in the country to which refugees were driven. Most often, some individual may be classified as “asylum seeker”, until the Refugee Agency or the competent national authorities decide that he falls under the definition.

In fact, asylum seekers are not beneficiaries of the protection forms specified in the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Further, many countries do not agree to grant refuge. Instead, they grant permission of residency for humanitarian reasons, so that a refugee can stay in the country of asylum in a legal way for some period. However, he is not given the right to avail himself of the guarantees accredited by the United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. Also, national measures of determining the status of refugees are often so prolonged that they take several years until the status of a asylum seeker is determined.

(Essence and Structure of the Circle of Rights – Unit No. 7 – p. 146/study submitted by the University of Minnesota – Source: University’s Web site).

Measures can even be described as unreasonably difficult. With measures like these, the individuals who fall under the definition of refugee are unable to obtain rights approved by the international community. It should, whoever, be taken into consideration that the international Convention for Refugees deems an individual as refugee if and as long as he fulfills the definition mentioned in the related Convention for Refugees.

Rule of International Juristic Personality:

States are no longer the only international juristic personality. International organizations are recognized to be having juristic personality as they have the two factors for such a personality, namely competence of enjoying international rights and holding international duties, and the ability to establish international juristic rules, within the scope of its functions.

That is what the International Court of Justice stated in its advisory opinion issued on 11 April 1949 regarding the Reparation for Injuries Suffered in the Service of the United Nations.

Individuals, however, do not have the ability to establish the rules of the international law, and they are not addressed by those rules except through their states – although in very limited cases, they are addressed directly by some of such rules. So, they do not have the components of having an international juristic personality. That is the most preponderant opinion.

(General International Law – 2nd edition – Abd Al-Mughny Mahmoud, PhD – p:208 – Dar Al-Nahda Al-Arabia Publications).

Conclusion:

 

We notice here that the complication cannot be dealt with isolated from interpretation and policies of the Refugee Agency implemented through its regional offices, as well as interpretations given by the United Nations Refugee Agency to the international Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees. It has all freedom in determining who fall under the definition mentioned in the Convention. Refugees, however, do not have the criterion of international juristic personality, and therefore they cannot defend their rights or prosecute the Agency for damages. Palestinian refugees then have no way to defend their rights which are violated and ignored in a systematic, designed way.

II. Any Way Out?

Is There a Possibility to Protect and Enhance Individual Human Rights in Relation to the Question of Palestinian Refugees?

Reliance can be made on the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights, which applies obviously to refugees. Rights referred to in the Covenant are the “individual” rights. Generally speaking, civil rights apply to all regardless of equal treatment, their nationality or even their not having a nationality. Since the Covenant requires that the rights recognized are entitled to the “individual”, rights of refugees remain protected, and they shall enjoy the minimum level of the basic content of civil and political rights.

The Conventions Relating to the Status of Refugees emphasized the right to enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms (comprehensive coverage of rights), not to cause any infringement to the items of the Convention that would be a violation to the Declaration of Human Rights and the Charter of the United Nations itself. That emphasis appeared in the preamble of the Convention for the Status of Refugees:

“Considering that the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights approved on 10 December 1948 by the General Assembly have affirmed the principle that human beings shall enjoy fundamental rights and freedoms without discrimination”.

Then the Convention adopts a comprehensive protection program for refugees and provides a system that ensures the refugees described in the Convention all rights included in the international statutes. It also recommends and authorizes the Refugee Agency to represent refugees and protest against governments on behalf of them, in order to ensure protection needed to them.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights stipulates that all rights are interrelated, inseparable, unchangeable in position, dependent on and supporting each other. Put differently, the United Nations agencies, which are bound by the Resolutions adopted and accredited by the United Nations General Assembly, should in performing its functions respect all the rights of refugees, whether political, civil, economic, of social. At the worst, they shall still be able to enjoy the minimal level of the fundamental content of such rights.

The International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights affirmed the importance of providing effective ways of complaining for individuals who claim that their rights are violated. It highlighted the importance of increasing the possibilities of complaining. Any person is entitled to the right to defend his rights, and the Covenant postulates that complaining is one of the rights recognized for everyone.

III. Rights and Reality

III. Rights and Reality – Personal Experience:

Yasser Al-Amoudi is one of the descendant of 1948′s refugees. Without much detail, he submitted a claim pursuing his right of getting protection and assistance from the Office of the Refugee Agency in Cairo. The request was denied, and the reason given by the Office was: “Manifestly unfounded”. Then, on the date 18/03/2003, he made an appeal, saying that he built his request on the fact that he was a Palestinian refugee, and he was out of the activity territories of UNRWA while there was no international agency to provide protection or assistance to him. The latter exact point on which the claimer relied can makes visible the inconvenience (concepts of right dissociation) of the interpretations given by the Refugee Agency to the Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, if he was empowered with an effective way to complain. But, of course, it was by no means possible for him. He submitted to the Committee for Human Rights (source: the Committee) on the date 11/08/2005 a note complaining the United Nations Refugee Agency (read text of complaining note). The Committee, in its reply dated 18/08/2005, dismissed the complaint (read the reply), on the basis that the Committee could not in general examine disputes for individuals and any claimed violations to human rights committed by non-state representatives.

Then, the claimer sent a reply to the decision of the Committee, indicating that the rights referred to in the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights were entitled to the “individual”, and that civil rights approved by the Covenant, including the right to complaining, applied to everyone. On the other hand, the Committee for Human Rights replied (read the reply) that it could not examine the complaint submitted by him because the United Nations Refugee Agency was not a contracting state on the optional protocol appended to the International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights.

Upon the developments leading to the idleness of the Committee for Human Rights and the emergence of the Human Rights Council (Human Rights Council – Preamble and Conclusion) with more authority as proclaimed, the claimer on 07/06/2006 resubmitted his complaining note to the new Council, from which no response or reply was received.

Comment:

The General Assembly gave instructions to the Human Rights Council that it should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. It should also promote the effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system. Moreover, the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

Resolution A/RES/60/251 involves the following:

Decides that the Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon. It should also promote the effective coordination and the mainstreaming of human rights within the United Nations system.

Decides further that the work of the Council shall be guided by the principles of universality, impartiality, objectivity and non-selectivity, constructive international dialogue and cooperation, with a view to enhancing the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development.

The contradiction is apparent between that intended and the reality. Political considerations and selectivity still have clear impact on the Resolutions and positions

IV. Action

IV. Action to Claim Rights:

The main course of action is struggling to get international protection which is legitimate and well-deserved to Palestinian refugees, including protection of their civil and political rights, in pursuit of equality with the protection earned by other refugees in the world, indiscriminately and without preconditions or restrictions.

Second, international public opinion should be galvanized to call for giving up behaviors and interpretations that reflect systematic violation of the rights of refugees and are adopted by international agencies, particularly the United Nations Refugee Agency. Efforts should be put forth to push the Human Rights Council to hold its responsibility for preventing violations of human rights and responding by paying attention to and examining the posts of individuals claiming that they are victims of a violation of any of the rights stated in the Covenant, with no selectivity or political prejudices affecting its positions or decisions.

Further still, we shall work as motivators for advocacy groups to take action towards our demands, in view of the important role played by advocacy activists interested in defending human rights.In the upcoming updates.

 

Permanent link to this article: http://palref.com/eng/?page_id=51

15/05/2008

I. Appeal to the Human Rights  Council We are going to send to the  Human Rights Council an  appeal, objective yet somewhat ironic, demanding that it  undertakes its  responsibilities of taking action to stop the systematic  violations of  the rights of the Palestinian refugees. It is not intended to  discuss  individual and group rights in …

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17/10/2013

Please sign and spread the petition below to uphold the UNHCR to its responsibility in protecting Palestinian refugees. https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/Stop_violating_the_rights_of_the_Palestinian_Refugees/?email

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