This article discusses the possible impact of global crisis on the economic and social rights of Palestinian refugees in host Arab countries. While the impact of global crisis is not felt only by refugees, this article will only address the case of Palestinian refugees in the Arab states that host the majority of Palestinian refugees; that is, in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and Syria.
Historically speaking, crisis (political, economic and social) at the national, regional and international levels has had a negative impact on Palestinian refugees, not only in terms of political enforcement but also in terms of their legal recognition. Accordingly, there are no grounds to believe things will be different with the current global financial crisis. It may even be worse, given the natural increase in the number of Palestinian refugees in Arab countries and, accordingly, in their needs.
The reasons behind this difficult situation will be discussed in detail, including what is commonly referred to as the ‘protection gap’ for Palestinian refugees in host Arab states, on the international and regional level; the lack of clear legal texts providing and protecting basic rights; and the inclusion of discriminatory legal texts in the constitutions of Arab states. These matters may partly explain why the status of rights for Palestinian refugees in host Arab states is more fragile than for other categories of persons.
This article will also argue that political enforcement, effectuated by concerned countries or by international organizations, without legal recognition gives such actions the status of charitable acts, rather than the fulfillment of legal obligations. It is only in the case of legal obligations that rights become justiciable and states, as much as international organizations, become accountable. The nature of assistance provided to Palestinian refugees by concerned states proves that it is far from being considered as their legal obligation. As a consequence, such assistance is dependent on the resources and political willingness of donor communities for voluntary contributions. Accordingly, the negative impact of the financial crisis will be felt by Palestinian refugees, and donor communities are likely to offer humanitarian aid rather than development.
Finally, the article argues that the deterioration in the global economic context is no justification for states – whatever their level of income – to compromise on their fundamental human rights obligations. In such times it is even more important that states guarantee minimum essential levels of human rights; take deliberate measures targeted at the most vulnerable; avoid measures that are retrogressive or discriminatory; and orient public policy towards the progressive realization of the rights of the whole population through the equitable distribution of available resources.
Keywords: #Palestinian_Refugees; #Host_Arab_countries; #Lebanon; #Jordan; #Syria; #Right_of_return; #human_rights.
Khalil, Asem. “Socioeconomic Rights of Palestinian Refugees in Arab Countries.” (2011) International Journal of Refugee Law 4, 680-719.
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