Community Participation and Human Rights Advocacy: Questions Arising from the Campaign about the Right to Work of Palestinian Refugees in Lebanon

Type of publication: 
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Reference to a term: 
In: 
S. Hanafi, L. Hilal, L. Takkenberg (Eds.): UNRWA and Palestinian Refugees: From Relief and Works to Human Development
Date of publication: 
2014
Edition: 
London, New York: Routledge

Exploring the evolution of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA), this book fills a lacuna in literature on the agency. UNRWA and Palestinian Refugees employs recent fieldwork in order to analyse challenges in programmes and service delivery, protection, camp governance, community participation, and camp improvement and reconstruction. The chapters examine the way UNRWA is adapting to a changing social, political and economic context, mostly within urban settings – a paradigmatic shift from understanding the Agency’s role as simply a provider of relief and services to one comprehensively supporting the human development of Palestinian refugees. This collection aims to emphasise the centrality of the Palestinian refugee issue for Middle East peace-making and to contribute a better understanding of a unique agency.

The main aim of this chapter is to contribute to the understanding of the interplay between community participation and human rights’ protection affecting the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon through the case of the advocacy campaign surrounding the reform of the legal regime regulating Palestinian employment in Lebanon. This campaign, in which UNRWA played an active role, has been characterized by its emphasis on the importance of community participation. Through discussion on the advocacy practices implemented, their participatory dimension and the decision-making process, this chapter aims at demonstrating that legitimizing advocacy via community participation activated the competition dynamics among community representatives, i.e., the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and political parties, thus further crystallizing the fragmentation of the Palestinian community. This conflict, in addition to Lebanese reluctance to a change of representation over the Palestinian refugees, had a detrimental impact on advocacy.