Statehood Will Not Endanger Refugee Rights
Posted on September 22, 2011 by Marivel Guzman
Originally Published on 09.09.11 – 16:00
In a memorandum dated September 2011 and prepared by the Permanent Observer Mission of Palestine to the United Nations, Palestinian diplomats claimed that the September bid for statehood would not render the PLO obsolete or endanger the right of return for Palestinian refugees.
Skeptics of the statehood bid, most notably the Oxford professor of public international law Guy Goodwin-Gill, have said the up grade in Palestinian representation
would replace the current PLO with a State of Palestine and since the PLO is the “sole representative of the Palestinian people,” including the nearly five million stateless refugees worldwide, if it was to be replaced, its responsibility for their right of return would disappear.
“These arguments have no basis in the actual national,regional, and international legislation and understandings that exist,”according to the memorandum, citing the PLO Charter and Palestine’s membership in the Non-Aligned Movement, the Arab League, the OIC, in which Palestine was granted membership as the state of all Palestinian people worldwide.
The memorandum also cited the example of the 1998 upgrading of the UN Palestinian delegation to observer status, which occurred “without prejudice to existing rights and privileges attained by the PLO in previous resolutions.”
The first claim of the memorandum is that the statehood bid refers only to the rights of Palestinians to self-determination and a state governed by Palestinians—namely the state within the 1967 borders that the UN General Assembly will vote on later this month—while the other legitimate grievances of Palestinians, such as the refugees’ right of return, will be resolved later.
“The right to self-determination and freedom and other human rights, including the right of refugees to return, are not mutually exclusive and the achievement of one does not negate the other,” the memorandum explained. “Accordingly, the current arguments circulating about the potential dangers and harm that could be caused to the status of the PLO…are distorted arguments, based on faulty assumptions that ignore national, regional, and international legislation that exists in this regard.”
“Regardless of the statehood initiative, it is understood that the plight of the Palestinian refugees must be politically, definitively,and justly resolved.”
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