Rhetoric and Reality – Human Rights and Palestine Refugees

10 December 2008

10 December 2008 marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. On Human Rights Day 2007, the United Nations Secretary-General launched a year-long advocacy campaign to mark this important milestone. The initiative celebrated the declaration and its extraordinary vision of “Dignity and justice for all”, a vision which has made this document so enduring. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour said:

"In the course of this year, unprecedented efforts must be made to ensure that every person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection. In advancing all human rights for all, we will move towards the greatest fulfillment of human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration."

Sadly, for many Palestine refugees there is wide gap between the rhetoric of the rights enshrined in the declaration and the reality of everyday life. Many of the rights commonly taken for granted: the right to life, education, and family are under daily assault. ‘Dignity and justice for all’ remains, for many, a distant hope.

The 60th anniversary of the declaration is an occasion for celebration, and rightly so. The declaration remains a watershed document. Yet the anniversary serves as a reminder that as yet, the promise of ‘inherent dignity and equal inalienable rights’ for Palestine refugees, remains unfulfilled. As part of the events marking the 60th anniversary of the Declaration, UNRWA has put together a series of case studies and materials profiling the relationship between the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and lives of Palestine refugees.

Abu Ahmed
Bedouin living in the West Bank
Ahmed and Fatma
al Tanf camp, on the border between Syria and Iraq

Abu Salem
Marka camp, Jordan

Two UNRWA students from Gaza enjoy recess in their first day of school. © 2017 UNRWA Photo by Rushdi Al-Saraj
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