(2 October 2019) BADIL releases: Papers of the Palestinian Youth Conference - Right of Return: Towards a Practical Approache

One of the longest and most protracted cases of refugees and internally displaced people is that of the Palestinians, who have spent more than 70 years (since the Nakba of 1948) fighting for the recognition of their basic human rights, and for these laws to be upheld in accordance with international law. This includes perhaps the most significant of all the laws in question, that of right of return.  On the Palestinian level, return is usually only expressed on a superficial level that does not translate into anything practical; it can be found easily in slogans and political speeches, but it doesn’t materialize into much more than that. On an international level, it is seen as more of an obstacle rather than a solution, one too difficult to handle and so is largely ignored or outspokenly resisted. This, in addition to the international bias towards Israel, especially with the staunch support of the US, as well as the attacks against UN based institutions in Palestine (like the funding cuts and systematic targeting of the United Nations Reliefs and Works Agency (UNRWA)), has further perpetuated the fraught situation of Palestinian refugees which has resulted in further deterioration of the upholding of Palestinian rights, especially the right of return.

In response, BADIL initiated the Right of Return Conference, which was held earlier this year in March in Ramallah, which was attended by over 140 people from all over Mandatory Palestine and featured interventions from Lebanon and South Africa on Skype to discuss practical approaches to the Palestinian right of return. Around 80 of these were Palestinian youth participants from both sides of the Green Line, which engaged in working group sessions after the lectures were held, as a way of embracing the ideas discussed and transform them into practical models. The conference included talks by a number of notable local Palestinian and international speakers and experts, who all framed return as a right to be implemented, rather than a dream that is far from reach. Building on this grounded notion, each speaker gave their own scenarios and concepts on what the new Palestinian national strategy would look like, founded on the rights-based approach that also unifies the Palestinian people, both nationally and internationally. At the end of the conference, a working group session with all the youth participants was conducted. This working group brought about vibrant and lively discussions on what return would actually look like in Palestine, as well as the perceived difficulties, opportunities and benefits of turning return into a reality.

This newly released paper by BADIL documents the speeches given by the speakers (that have been translated into English for publication purposes), as well as the results of the discussions that stemmed from the working group session at the end of the conference, which is presented at the end of this publication.

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