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Options and Strategies of International Law for the Palestinian People

Jointly with the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem and the Decolonizing Palestine Project, the Institute of Law at Birzeit University organised on 8 May 2013 an international conference on Options and Strategies of International Law for the Palestinian People.

The event provided a springboard to a broader debate of alternative paradigms of international law, which are appropriate for the analysis of Israel’s regime of prolonged occupation.

In the backdrop of Palestine’s  admission as observer state at the United Nations, legal experts and practitioners from Palestine and abroad discussed new and more effective strategies for challenging Israel’s on-going theft of Palestinian land and resources and violation of the Palestinian right to self-determination. These include the possibility of bringing charges against Israeli officials in the International Criminal Court (ICC), taking the question of Palestine to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), or using international law frameworks to combat and prevent apartheid.

The rationale for the Conference is the growing recognition that Israel’s occupation is not temporary, and that the current combination of peace diplomacy and humanitarian aid is insufficient for addressing the nature of Israeli oppression of the Palestinian people since 1948. Following 65 years of displacement and struggle, international law paradigm has not helped Palestinians put an end to their calamity and respective daily consequences. In this context, the international law paradigm is inadequate and is in need of a serious review.

Among the international experts addressing the Conference was former UN Rapporteur for Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory John Dugard and the current holder of the post Richard Falk. Both Dugard and Falk have alerted in their reports to the UN about the need to explore the merits of international law on “apartheid”, “colonisation”, “forced population transfer” and “ethnic cleansing” on par with the more widespread use of the term “occupation” in understanding Israeli policies.

The Conference was concluded with a final statement, including a set of recommendations to launch debate of relevant themes on popular, official and academic levels. Each alternative paradigm should be examined in light of the Palestinian and comparative contexts. To implement recommendations, the Conference organisers look forward to a sustained and deepened contact and cooperation with participants from all over the world.


  1. Concept Note
  2. Conference Agenda