The International Community, Domestic Policies and Forced Secondary Displacement of Palestinian Refugees – A Vicious Circle
As a response to the large-scale displacement from ‘historical’ Palestine in the late 1940s, the international community established the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) and the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). These two exclusive agencies were mandated with conflict mediation and protection of Palestinian refugees (UNCCP) and the humanitarian assistance of Palestinian refugees (UNRWA). This institutional separation resulted in a unique status for Palestinian refugees under international law, as they were subsequently singled out for non-conventional treatment. While providing the foundation of the international refugee protection regime, the 1951 UN Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, excluded Palestine refugees from its scope and subsequently from the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees’ (UNHCR) mandate. Sixty years later, UNCCP has de facto collapsed and Palestinian refugees face a gap in protection. Amid the ongoing conflict in Syria, over half a million Palestinian refugees residing in Syria have also become vulnerable to the fighting. As of December 2014, over fifty per cent of those Palestinian refugees have fled Syria, seeking safety in neighbouring countries, such as Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey. The local responses to the influx of Palestinian refugees from Syria has varied, from being granted temporary residence in Turkey and restricted social and economic rights in Lebanon, to facing a non-entry policy in Jordan. In this respect, my research shall analyse the role the international community plays in shaping domestic policies of protection with regard to forced secondary displacement of Palestinian refugees. In what way does this relationship highlight the existence of a protection gap? And what, in turn, are the implications with regard to the institutionally manifested divide? The working thesis for the study is that international measures in place for Palestinian refugees have not only failed to resolve or cope with the existing protracted refugee situation, but have rather contributed to its perpetuation especially in situations of secondary displacement.
Supervisor Prof. Heintze