On 22 June 2021 ICMPD in the framework of EU-funded ENIGMMA-2 project in close cooperation with the Levan Alexidze Foundation hosted the Migration Talks webinar Palestinian Refugees in Europe: Right to Asylum and ECHR. The event was a part of the week-long honouring of the World Refugee Day, commemorated around the globe since 2001. The celebration of this day within academic circles was turned into a tradition in Georgia with Professor Levan Alexidze’s vigorous support, whereas a chain of migration talks have been held jointly chaired by the ICMPD and Academician Levan Alexidze for a number of years up to 2019.
The distinguished panel featured Prof. Dr. Rick Lawson along with Dr. Lex Takkenberg, in a moderated discussion by Prof. Dr. Ketevan Khutsishvili, Director of International Criminal Law Centre at TSU and Editor-in-Chief of the Levan Alexidze Journal of International Law.
Distinguished speakers analyzed early periods of development of refugee law, the status of refugees from the human rights angle, in particular protection framework provided under the European Convention on Human Rights, ensuing state practice and case law. Furthermore, speakers focused on the issue of Palestinian refugees and provided historical overview of their displacement, demographic data and their right to return.
The discussion around the questions from the audience centred around the challenges in ensuring return of Palestinian refugees as well as opportunities for the European Court of Human Rights to deal with the status and rights of Palestinian refugees in future. Demonstrating the elements of the European Convention on Human Rights as of a living instrument, interlinkages between the issues related to the state security interests and protection of human rights were discussed along with analysing the scope of the intervention by the European Court of Human Rights. Outlining the main aspects of the 1951 Refugee Convention and categories of refugees a distinct regime for the Palestinians was explained. Particular emphasis was made on the mandate of the UNRWA and its contribution to the protection of those in need of direct relief and support.
Dr. Lex Takkenberg, a visiting Professor at Fordham University, having defended his doctoral dissertation dedicated to The Status of Palestinian Refugees in International Law in the 1980s worked at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East from 1989 until late 2019, most recently as the first Chief of its Ethics Office. Before joining UNRWA, Dr. Takkenberg was the Legal Officer at the Dutch Refugee Council. A second edition of the book co-edited by Lex Takkenberg Palestinian Refugees in Internal Law was published by Oxford University Press in June 2020.
Professor Rick Lawson, the Director of the Advanced LLM programme in European and International Human Rights Law at the University of Leiden in 2011-2016 was Dean of Leiden Law School. In November 2020 Rick Lawson was elected member of the Management Board of the EU Fundamental Rights Agency in Vienna. Prof. Lawson was a founding member of the EU Network of Independent Experts on Fundamental Rights (2002-2006), and subsequently a senior expert of the FRALEX Network of Human Rights Experts. He served as an expert to the Dutch Senate and the Second Chamber of Parliament as well as the Parliamentary Assembly of Council of Europe on various occasions. Since 2013 he is a member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities. Professor Lawson has been a good acquaintance of Academician Levan Alexidze and in December 2019 he launched the Alexidze Lectures established by the Levan Alexidze Foundation.
This collaborative venture is a part of celebration events by the Levan Alexidze Foundation across June 2021 marking 70 years after the adoption of 1951 Geneva Convention on the Status of Refugees under the wider umbrella of the events promoting human rights and democratic standards, dedicated to the 95th jubilee of the merited scientist, professor and public figure, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, the founder of the International Law school in Georgia Levan Alexidze, late Full Member of the Georgian National Academy of Sciences.