Reports & Researches

The Legal horizons of de-funding The United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East- UNRWA

Following the decision of major donor countries in announcing the suspension of their contributions to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in January 2024, after allegations of the involvement of a number of UNRWA employees in the October 7 attacks; The agency is witnessing one of the worst financial crises ever. This crisis threatens the existence of the agency and its ability to fulfill its mandate, which threatens in the interruption of its humanitarian response, not only within the Gaza Strip, but in all the areas of its operations.

This legal analysis highlights the legal interpretation of the debate surrounding the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and the potential legal consequences and implications of any violation of its mandate or its ability to continue to implement its humanitarian and developmental operations, by addressing the following topics:

- Mandate of the United Nations Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East

- Refugees, the UNRWA, and the Right to Return

- Attributes of the UNRWA Mandate

- The Finances of UNRWA and the Suspension of Funds

- The Independent Panel Review

- Ending the International Agency

- Outcomes

- Recommendations

This legal analysis concluded in enhancing the position of the Palestinian Association for Human Rights (Witness) in condemning any measures that would violate the components of the livelihood and resilience of Palestinian communities in Palestine and in countries of refuge. To emphasize the call for the United Nations to take urgent practical measures in order to ensure the sustainability of UNRWA’s operational capacity.

We at the Palestinian Institution for Human Rights (Witness) stand firmly against all forms of collective punishment implicitly imposed by many international actors upon the Palestinian people by disregarding their basic rights to education, health and livelihoods guaranteed by UNRWA.

Accordingly, we call for an integrated approach to address the issue of the Agency's financial instability and urge legal action to develop a sustainable financial model that ensures consistent and stable support for Palestinian refugees.