Major Papers


UNRWA, Palestine Refugees, Palestine, Israel, Realism, United Nations


This study examines what necessitated the continued existence of the UN Relief and Works Agency for the Palestine Refugees in the Near East, UNRWA, for over seventy years. Since the start of their plight, the Palestine refugees have had their fundamental human rights protected by the Agency. The research takes a realist approach based on a qualitative method of analysis to examine why UNRWA’s original purpose as a temporary agency for a temporary problem was eventually changed to become an invaluable agency for a seemingly never-ending problem.

The paper contends that UNRWA’s continued existence was made necessary due to the lack of political will by the international community to solve the root cause of the problem. UNRWA has then become the easiest way to deal with such a complex situation, where the refugees are denied their right of return, the possibility of integration, and the chances of resettlement under a different UN agency. Additionally, what made UNRWA invaluable is its humanitarian and developmental roles, which also translate into security and stability for the region. For the Palestine refugees, UNRWA is the guarantor of their fundamental human and developmental rights pending the presentation of a just solution. For the host nations and the regional governments, UNRWA, through its humanitarian and developmental roles, provides regional security and stability, and occupies a very significant power vacuum left by governments who are unable or unwilling to provide crucial services to the refugee population.

Primary Advisor

Dr. Tom Najem

Program Reader

Professor Reem Bahdi

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Political Science

Document Type

Major Research Paper

Convocation Year