Palestinian Refugees in International Law: A Tale of Fragmentation and Opportunities


Friday, October 23, 2020, 12:00pm to 1:30pm


Online webinar (registration link below)

The WCFIA/CMES Middle East Seminar presents

Francesca Albanese
Human Rights Lawyer & affiliate scholar, Institute for the Study of International Migration, Georgetown University

Lex Takkenberg
Former Chief, Ethics Office, UNRWA, Amman, Jordan, and Legal Officer, Dutch Refugee Council

Discussant: Susan Akram, Clinical Professor and Supervising Attorney, Boston University International Human Rights Clinical Program, Boston University School of Law


Francesca Albanese is a Research Affiliate at the Institute for the Study of International Migration (ISIM), Georgetown University and Visiting Scholar, at the Issam Fares Institute for Public Studies for Public Policies and International Affairs, American University of Beirut. She is also an international lawyer, with a specialization in human rights and refugee issues in the Arab world. She has fifteen years of professional experience, working with the UN Relief and Work Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, European Union (electoral assistance), UN Development Programme, and NGOs (protection, human rights). Albanese received her LL.B (Hons.) at Pisa University, and her LL.M (Human Rights) at SOAS University. Together with Lex Takkenberg, she is author of Palestinian Refugees in International Law, (OUP, August 2020).

Lex Takkenberg has worked with UNRWA since 1989. He is the former Chief of the Ethics Office of the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East. Prior to that, he held positions including General Counsel / Director, Department of Legal Affairs, Director of Operations / Operational Support, and (Deputy) Field Director in Gaza and Syria. Before joining UNRWA, he was the Legal Officer of the Dutch Refugee Council for six years. A law graduate from the University of Amsterdam, he obtained a Doctorate in International Law from the University of Nijmegen, the Netherlands.

Susan Akram directs Boston University Law’s International Human Rights Clinic, where she supervises students engaged in international advocacy in domestic, international, regional, and UN fora. Her research and publications focus on immigration, asylum, refugee, forced migration, and human and civil rights issues, with an interest in the Middle East, the Arab, and Muslim world. Akram’s distinguished research was recognized with a Fulbright Senior Scholar Teaching and Research Award for the 1999–2000 academic year. She has lectured on Palestinian refugees to general audiences around the world as well as to committees of the United Nations (including the High Commission for Refugees and the Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees), the European Union, and representatives of European and Canadian government ministries and parliaments. Since September 11, 2001, she has presented widely on the USA Patriot Act and immigration-related laws and policies as well as on her work challenging standard interpretations of women’s asylum claims from the Arab/Muslim world. With her clinic students as well as in collaboration with other legal organizations, Akram has worked on resettlement and refugee claims of Guantanamo detainees, and has been co-counsel on a number of high profile cases, including the 20+-year litigation of a case of first impression on the interpretation of one of the exclusion bars to asylum, In Re A-H-. She has taught at the American University in Cairo, Egypt and at Al-Quds and Birzeit Universities in Palestine. She regularly teaches in the summer institute on forced migration at the Refugee Studies Centre at Oxford University, and in various venues in the Middle East on refugee law.

Contact: Liz Flanagan