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Announcement and Public Invitation BADIL EXPERT FORUM for a Rights-Based Approach to the Palestinian Refugee Question (2003 – 2004)

Seminar-1, Ghent University, 22-23 May 2003:
“The Role of International Law in Peacemaking and Crafting Durable Solutions for Refugees”

Why a New Expert Forum on the Palestinian Refugee Question?

Throughout the period of Israeli-Palestinian peace negotiations until today, the debate about the Palestinian refugee question has been dominated by a political approach which considers relevant international law and human rights provisions (especially refugee law and UN Resolution 194) as ‘impractical’ and an obstacle to a rapid negotiated solution of the Palestinian refugee issue. As a result, the international law-guaranteed rights of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced to return and repossess their properties have remained excluded from scholarly research, debate and recommendations. Political actors and the media have remained largely unaware of the law and principles underlying a rights-based approach to the Palestinian refugee issue. Moreover, mechanisms for a rights-based solution (return, housing and property restitution and compensation; refugee choice) of the Palestinian refugee question have remain largely unexplored. This fact is especially striking given the large body of international practice and experience that have accumulated in the context of international refugee repatriation and restitution operations elsewhere in the world.

Today political negotiations between the PLO and Israel have broken down. The exclusion of international law, human rights standards and UN resolutions from the terms of reference of these negotiations and the domination of power-politics have been identified as a major cause of their failure. It is therefore time now to re-introduce international law, human rights conventions and relevant UN resolutions into the search for a durable solution of the 55-year old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The Palestinian, Arab, and international expert community - if adequately informed and engaged - can play an important role in the promotion of a rights-based and durable solution of one of the conflict's root causes, i.e. the forceful displacement and dispossession of some two-thirds of the Palestinian people.

Scheduled Events:

Seminar-1, Ghent

Initiated by BADIL Resource Center in Palestine, this Expert Forum is a collective effort of legal experts, academic researchers, politicians, professional human rights workers and solidarity activists worldwide, who in a series of four seminars, will jointly re-examine key components of the Palestinian refugee question, issue recommendations and engage in practical follow-up.

The first Seminar in this series will be hosted by the University of Ghent/Department of Third World Studies on 22-23 May 2003. It will focus on the topic of:

“The Role of International Law in Peacemaking
and Crafting Durable Solutions for Palestinian Refugees.”

THE PUBLIC IS INVITED to join the discussion with our key-note speakers of the Evening Session:

*“Peace without International Law and Human Rights Guarantees? A Framework for Durable Solutions for Palestinian Refugees”
(Susan Akram, Associate Professor, Boston University School of Law"

*“Revisiting Israeli-Palestinian Peace Negotiations on the Palestinian Refugee Question”
(Dr. As’ad Abdelrahman, former head of the PLO Refugee Department)

on: Thursday, 22 May 2003, at 7:30 p.m.

at the: University of Ghent (Auditorium C)

Additional Events are scheduled as following:

October 2003: Seminar-2 hosted by the University of Geneva/IUED (Switzerland)

“The Right to Restitution: Law, principles, mechanisms, comparative experience and the Palestinian refugee case.”

Spring 2004: Seminar-3, Cairo (tentative)

“International and Regional Mechanisms for Palestinian Refugee Protection.”

Summer 2004: Seminar-4, UK (tentative)

“Implementation of Return, Real Property Restitution and Compensation for Palestinian Refugees: stocktaking of resources/mechanisms available vs. technical and political obstacles.”

Autumn 2004: Closing Conference, Geneva

Organized jointly by BADIL and the Graduate Institute for Development Studies, University of Geneva.

*For additional information about the public lecture and debate at the Ghent University, please contact: Mirjam Vanbelle, Oxfam Solidarity, tel. (0032) 02-501 67 44 and This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

(Please note that travel grants for this evening session are unfortunately not available.)

*For more information about the BADIL Expert Forum initiative, please contact BADIL at: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The initiative is supported and sponsored by: the University of Ghent, Department of Third World Studies; the University of Geneva, Graduate Institute for Development Studies (IUED); the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (PD IV); Oxfam Solidarity, Belgium; the APRODEV NGO Network; Stichting Vluchteling and ICCO, Netherlands; the Flemish Palestine Committee; the Swiss Human Rights Forum. Additional sponsors and partners are needed and welcome to contact BADIL.

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