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Palestinian Refugees and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

11-12 May 2002

This two-day workshop places the Palestinian refugee case study within the broader context of the international human rights regime. It examines, within a human rights framework, the policies and practices of Middle Eastern states as they impinge upon Palestinian refugees. Through a mix of lectures, working group exercises and interactive sessions, participants engage actively and critically with the contemporary debates in the human rights movement and analyse the specific context of Palestinian refugees in the Middle East (Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, the West Bank, Gaza and Israel) in light of these debates.

The workshop commences with the historical background of the Palestinian refugee crisis, with special attention to the political and legal status of Palestinian refugees in the region. The Palestinian refugee case is placed in the context of refugee law, the law of nationality and the human rights regime.

This is followed by a careful examination of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights including its philosophical underpinnings. Debates which have emerged in the contemporary human rights movement, such as that between universalism and cultural relativism, are discussed in the context of the particularities of Arab and Israeli society. The key themes, which have taken centre stage in the debate on the Palestinian refugee crisis, are statelessness, right of return, repatriation, compensation and protection. These themes are critically examined along with current discussions about the respective roles of UNRWA and the UNHCR in the Palestinian refugee case.

Instructors: Dr Randa Farah is a Palestinian social anthropologist. Her doctorate, Popular Memory and Reconstructions of Palestinian Identity was completed at the University of Toronto in 1999. She has conducted research on UNRWA and is currently working on issues related to children and adolescents in Palestinian households. She is a Research Associate of Queen Elizabeth House and is based at the Refugee Studies Centre, University of Oxford.

Fiona McKay, LLM is a qualified solicitor and international human rights lawyer. She is currently Deputy Director of the Kurdish Human Rights Project. She has published widely on human rights issues. Her most recent work includes The Palestinian Arab Minority in Israel: Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1999), and Universal Jurisdiction in Europe (1999).

Level: (under)graduate, professional

Location: Oxford, United Kingdom

Participants: Anyone interested in refugee issues.

Tuition, fee, lodging: Course fee: £100 (including course materials, refreshments and light lunch).

Contact Information:
Dominique Attala
Refugee Studies Centre
Queen Elizabeth House
University of Oxford
21 St Giles, Oxford, OX1 3LA

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