Leila Hilal
Chatham House (Analysis)
January 1, 2012 - 1:00am

Today there are an estimated six million Palestinian refugees. Resolving their plight has been a core part of the peace agenda in the Middle East since 1948. While considerable diplomatic effort in the past two decades has centred on reaching a bilateral Israeli–Palestinian permanent status agreement, implementing any such agreement will present an equally massive challenge.

Any permanent status agreement that would see the end of conflict would have to address the moral, legal, and material aspects of the refugee question, including the provision of durable solutions to ensure permanent national protection and socio-economic development for the refugees. The vast scale and complexities involved in implementing a solution for some six million persons residing in more than five geographical areas following more than 60 years of conflict would render implementation a major operational task.

Third parties and international agency representatives will be especially critical for lending political, financial, and logistical support and needed technical expertise in seeing through the implementation process. Such support and expertise are likely to be channelled through an ‘implementation mechanism’ (or agreed institutional arrangement).

The implementation mechanism should account for both dimensions of a comprehensive solution to the refugee question: repatriation, resettlement and rehabilitation and reparations (i.e., restitution and compensation), with the former likely to require significant international resources, policy engagement, and monitoring and oversight.

Early preparations by the international community in consultation with refugees, refugee hosting-governments, and the parties would benefit an eventual implementation phase. The contributions of the international community will be influenced by the agreed design and mandate of the institutional mechanism for implementation. Preparations should avoid prejudicing any future agreement to be decided by the parties while anticipating measures that the international community may need to take in order to facilitate implementation and the policy options with respect to them.

This paper outlines possible international contributions and their implications based on wide consultations and reflection on existing technical preparatory activities produced through Track II initiatives.

To read the entire paper, please download the PDF attachment.

0112pp_hilal.pdf299.76 KB


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