The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law

By Lex Takkenberg | Go to book overview

VIII International Protection

1. Introductory Remarks

Parts One and Two of the present study have focused on the standards of treatment of Palestinian refugees that are derived from various areas of international law. Part Three will deal with the implementation of these standards. Unlike other foreigners, refugees cannot turn to the authorities of their home country for protection. Alternatively, they must seek the protection that every human being requires, from the country of refuge and from the international community. It is this vital need for international protection that most clearly distinguishes refugees from other aliens.1 The need for international protection starts at the very moment the authorities of the home country are no longer providing protection and lasts until a durable solution has been found, ideally through the restoration of national protection by the refugee's own country.

These two basic concepts, the need for international protection and the need for a long-term solution to refugee problems, and their application in relation to the Palestinian refugee question, will be dealt with in Part Three of the study, the first concept being the subject of the present chapter and the second concept that of chapter IX.

International protection of refugees is based on human rights principles. It is the duty of the state to secure fundamental rights and freedoms for its citizens. Since refugees do not enjoy the effective protection of their own government, this normal remedy is unavailable. Alternatively, it is for international law, in turn, to substitute its own protection for that which the country of origin cannot or will not provide. Under the various applicable rules it is the responsibility of the international community, acting for this purpose both through one or more states and through international organizations, to provide the international protection necessary to secure for refugees the enjoyment of the basic rights that are inherent to every human being.

Non-refoulement, that is protection from being sent to a place where his or her life or freedom would be endangered, is often seen as the

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1
Cf. UNHCR, The State of the World's Refugees 1993: The Challenge of Protection, Middlesex, Penguin Books, 1993, 5.

-277-

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