Palestine at the UN: uncovering the PLO-UNRWA relationship, c.1964-94

Irfan, Anne (2018) Palestine at the UN: uncovering the PLO-UNRWA relationship, c.1964-94. In: BRISMES Annual Conference 2018: New Approaches to Studying the Middle East, 25-28 June 2018, King's College London.

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In 2012, the UN formally recognised Palestine as a non-member state, upgrading its former status as an entity. General Assembly Resolution 67/19 marked the culmination of a decades-long struggle by the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) to bring its national cause to the UN. Scholars have noted how from the late 1960s, the PLO had made overtures to numerous agencies and organisations in its efforts to secure UN recognition. Yet scholars have largely overlooked its interactions with one organisation in particular: the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA).

This paper thus takes a new approach to the PLO’s history, by examining its relationship with UNRWA. The latter has played a key role in the politics of the Palestinian diaspora; from 1950, it was responsible for administering the refugee camps that acted as incubators for the nationalist movement in exile. Recognising the importance of UNRWA’s position, the PLO accordingly sought to build a relationship with the Agency as part of its wider objective of putting Palestine on the global agenda. Using evidence from the UN archive, as well as UNRWA’s closed Central Registry in Amman, this paper argues that the PLO’s overtures to the Agency constituted a crucial component of its historical political strategy. It therefore takes a new approach to uncover a highly important yet overlooked aspect of the PLO’s history.

Item Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)
Schools and Departments: School of History, Art History and Philosophy > History
Depositing User: Anne Irfan
Date Deposited: 12 Jul 2018 14:55
Last Modified: 12 Jul 2018 15:00
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