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Book outline

The Palestinian refugee question, resulting from the events surrounding the creation of the state of Israel over seventy years ago, remains one of the largest, most protracted, and most politically fraught refugee questions of the post-WWII era. Numbering over seven million in the Middle East alone, Palestinian refugees’ status varies considerably according to the state or territory ‘hosting’ them, the UN agency assisting them and political circumstances surrounding the Question of Palestine. International law, while being crucial to the protection of these refugees, remains marginal in political discussions concerning their fate.

This new book, building on the seminal contribution of the first edition (1998), aims to bring order and logic into a matter which is politically fraught, discussing the legal status of Palestinian refugees in a historical and factual fashion, building on extensive research of international and national legal norms and systems, doctrine and jurisprudence alike. It offers a comprehensive and compelling analysis of various areas of international law (refugee law, human rights law, humanitarian law, the law relating to stateless persons, principles related to internally displaced persons, as well as notions of international criminal law), and probes their relevance to Palestinian refugees.

It so manages to be innovative in a field of study where much has been written in either general terms (discussing Palestinian refugees as part of the broader Israeli-Palestinian conflict) or specific terms (discussing specific issues pertaining to Palestinian refugees e.g. which UN agency is responsible for them, their right of return and compensation, Palestinian in Lebanon, in Jordan, in Egypt), without any other manuscripts being able to offer the broad picture of Palestinian (refugees’) continuous dispersal and protection issues.

The new edition includes: a wealth of information concerning origins, crucial facts and legal tenets of the Palestinian refugee question; an updated analysis of the distinctive regime set up for them, made of a plurality of UN agencies (UNCCP, UNRWA and UNHCR); a rigorous analysis of current interpretations of Article 1D of the 1951 Refugee Convention relating to the Status of Refugees, and the various definitions of Palestinian refugees; a detailed examination of specific rights of these refugees and a the protection regime they are afforded; an innovative framework for solutions, building on important development in the field of refugee law and practice and on a holistic rights-based approach.

This book makes for an indispensable reading to anyone willing to get a better understanding of the Palestinian refugee question and its resolution. Being so painstakingly researched, this book is meant to be, for many years to come, the ultimate reference about Palestinian refugees.

About the authors

A Dutch National, Lex Takkenberg has worked in various field and headquarters positions with UNRWA since 1989, and was until recently based in Amman where he occupied the post of Chief, Ethics Office at UNRWA Headquarters. Before joining UNRWA, he was the Legal Officer of the Dutch Refugee Council for six years. A law graduate from the University of Amsterdam, he obtained a Doctorate in International Law from the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands, after having successfully defended his doctoral dissertation entitled The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law. Oxford University Press (OUP) published a commercial edition of the dissertation in 1998; an integral Arabic translation was published by the Institute for Palestine Studies in 2003. A new version of the book, co-authored with Francesca Albanese, will be published, also with OUP, in mid-2020. Lex has two daughters and two sons.

Francesca Albanese is an International Lawyer and Affiliate Scholar at Georgetown University, Institute for the Study of International Migration. She is the lead researcher and author, with Lex Takkenberg, of Palestinian Refugees in International Law (Oxford University Press, forthcoming). Before dedicating herself to this book writing, she served the UN for over a decade in over fifteen countries, including the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and the Department of Legal Affairs of the Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA). Her current research focuses on UNRWA’s mandate, Palestinian mobility and dispersal, the search for just solutions for Palestinian refugees, including youths’ opportunities for political participation”.

Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture

The Annual Harrell-Bond Lecture is named in honour of Dr Barbara Harrell-Bond, the founding Director of the Refugee Studies Centre. It is held each year in Michaelmas term.

Past Annual Harrell-Bond Lectures

Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture

The Annual Elizabeth Colson Lecture is held in Trinity term. It is named after Professor Elizabeth Colson, a renowned anthropologist.

Past Annual Elizabeth Colson Lectures

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Each term the RSC holds a series of public seminars, held on Wednesday evenings at Queen Elizabeth House. Click here for details of forthcoming seminars.

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