Right of return

The right of return is a principle in international law which guarantees everyone's right of voluntary return to or re-enter their country of origin or of citizenship. A right of return based on nationality, citizenship or ancestry may be enshrined in a country's constitution or law, and some countries deny a right of return in particular cases or in general.

The right is formulated in several modern treaties and conventions, most notably in the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1966 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the 1948 Fourth Geneva Convention. The Geneva Conventions, it has been argued, have passed into customary international law and that the right of return is binding on non-signatories to the conventions.[1]

The right of return is often invoked by representatives of refugee groups to assert that they have a right to return to the country from which they were displaced.


The right to leave one's country and return to it are regarded as human rights and based in natural law.[2] In antiquity, the right to return was connected by philosophers with the right of travel.

Ancient precedents

There are various recorded cases in ancient history where people who had been deported or uprooted from their city or homeland were allowed (or encouraged) to return, typically when the balance of military and political forces which caused their exile had changed. However, in these cases the exiled populations were granted the option to return, it was never recognized that they had an inherent right to return.

A well-known example is the return to Zion, which King Cyrus the Great granted the Jews expelled from Judah to the Babylonian Exile to return to their ancestral homeland and rebuild Jerusalem. Recorded in the Hebrew Bible (Book of Ezra and Book of Nehemiah) this case is often cited as a precedent by modern Zionists and also inspired other groups seeking to pursue their own return.

During the Peloponnesian War, Athens expelled and scattered the inhabitants of Melos, Aegina and other cities (some of them being sold into slavery). Following the victory of Sparta, the Spartan general Lysander in 405 BC made a concerted effort to gather these exiles and restore them to their original cities.[3][4]

Magna Carta

The first codified law guaranteeing a Right of Return can be found in the Magna Carta:[5]

In future it shall be lawful for any man to leave and return to our kingdom unharmed and without fear, by land or water, preserving his allegiance to us, except in time of war, for some short period, for the common benefit of the realm. People that have been imprisoned or outlawed in accordance with the law of the land, people from a country that is at war with us, and merchants - who shall be dealt with as stated above - are excepted from this provision.[6]

French Constitution of 1791

Another early example of national law recognizing the Right of Return was the French constitution of 1791, enacted on 15 December 1790:[2]

the freedom of everyone to go, to stay, or to leave, without being halted or arrested unless in accordance with procedures established by the Constitution.

The constitution put an end to the centuries-long persecution and discrimination of Huguenots (French Protestants).

Concurrently with making all Protestants resident in France into full-fledged citizens, the law enacted on December 15, 1790 stated that:

All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals (naturels français) and will benefit to rights attached to that quality if they come back to France, establish their domicile there and take the civic oath.[7]

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and expulsion of the Huguenots had taken place more than a century earlier, and there were extensive Huguenot diasporas in many countries, where they often intermarried with the population of the host country (see Edict of Potsdam). Therefore, the law potentially conferred French citizenship on numerous Britons, Germans, South Africans and others – though only a fraction actually took advantage of it. This option for Huguenot descendants to gain French citizenship remained open until 1945, when it was abolished - since after the Occupation of France, the French were unwilling to let Germans of Huguenot origin take advantage of it.

Schleswig plebiscites, 1920

In the aftermath of the Second Schleswig War of 1864, the previously Danish-ruled territory of Schleswig became part of Imperial Germany. A significant number of inhabitants, known as "optants", chose to retain their Danish citizenship and refused to take up a German one. Consequently, they were expelled from the area by Prussian authorities. Half a century later, following the German defeat in the First World War, a plebiscite was held in 1920 to determine the future of the area. The Danish government asked the Allied Powers to let these expelled ethnic Danes and their descendants return to Schleswig and take part in the plebiscite. This was granted, though many of the optants had in the meantime emigrated to the United States, and most of these did not actually come back.

Legal understanding of the right

The right of return principle has been codified in a number of international instruments, including:

Hague Regulations (HR), article 20:

20. After the conclusion of peace, the repatriation of prisoners of war shall be carried out as quickly as possible.

It has been argued that if the HR require the repatriation of prisoners, then it is "obvious" that civilians displaced during conflict must also be allowed to repatriate.[8]

Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), article 13:

1. Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each State.
2. Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) article 12(4):

4. No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of the right to enter his own country.

Fourth Geneva Convention, article 49:

49. Individual or mass forcible transfers, as well as deportations of protected persons from occupied territory to the territory of the Occupying Power or to that of any other country, occupied or not, are prohibited, regardless of their motive.
Nevertheless, the Occupying Power may undertake total or partial evacuation of a given area if the security of the population or imperative military reasons so demand. ... Persons thus evacuated shall be transferred back to their homes as soon as hostilities in the area in question have ceased.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, article 5d(ii):

The right to leave any country, including one's own, and to return to one's country.

Some controversy exists among scholars on how these articles should be interpreted.

"His own country"

There is some disagreement[9] as to what "his own" and "his country" means in the ICCPR and UDHR. According to the United Nations Human Rights Committee's authoritative interpretation:

The scope of "his own country" is broader than the concept "country of his nationality". It is not limited to nationality in a formal sense, that is, nationality acquired at birth or by conferral; it embraces, at the very least, an individual who, because of his or her special ties to or claims in relation to a given country, cannot be considered to be a mere alien. This would be the case, for example, of nationals of a country who have been stripped of their nationality in violation of international law, and of individuals whose country of nationality has been incorporated in or transferred to another national entity, whose nationality is being denied them.


The right of a person to enter his or her own country recognizes the special relationship of a person to that country... It includes not only the right to return after having left one’s own country; it may also entitle a person to come to the country for the first time if he or she was born outside the country.[10]

The landmark Nottebohm case of 1955 is often cited as staking out more criteria as to what "ones country" should be.[9] Among them were "a close and enduring connection", "tradition", "establishment", "interests" and "family ties".

Refugees who are resettled into third countries lose refugee status and acquire a new nationality. They therefore lose the right to return to their country of origin.

Mass displacement

Some disagreement exists on whether the right of return is applicable to situations in which whole ethnic groups have been displaced or not. Ruth Lapidoth from the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs has argued, by citing Stig Jägerskiöld from his 1966 commentary of ICCPR, that the right was not intended to protect groups of displaced people:

... [it] is intended to apply to individuals asserting an individual right. There was no intention here to address the claims of masses of people who have been displaced as a by-product of war or by political transfers of territory or population, such as the relocation of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe during and after the Second World War, the flight of the Palestinians from what became Israel, or the movement of Jews from the Arab countries.[11]

Hurst Hannum has made a similar argument:

There is no evidence that mass movements of groups such as refugees or displaced persons were to be intended to be included within the scope of article 12 of the Covenant by its drafters.[12]

Manfred Nowak has argued the opposite position, that the right of return applies "even if masses of people are claiming this right" [13] Bracka has argued similarly:

At any rate, what seems clear is that neither the text nor the travaux préparatoires of the relevant UDHR, ICCPR and CERD provisions actually support circumscribing [the right of] return in this way [to exclude situations of mass displacement]. Firstly, there is no indication that the drafters considered the applicability of the freedom of movement principle to members of displaced populations. And although it may have been assumed at the time that such a scenario would receive discussion in ‘some other body of law’, this is not synonymous with an intention to limit these articles to isolated individuals. Secondly, nowhere in the actual text is the operation of the right of return qualified on the basis of group affiliation. Rather, in each instance, the relevant language refers to ‘everyone’. In addition, the HRC in General Comment 27 affirms this reading in so far as it states: ‘[t]he right to return is of the utmost importance for refugees seeking voluntary repatriation. It also implies prohibition of enforced population transfers or mass expulsions to other countries’. Thirdly, whilst the right of return in art 12(4) of the ICCPR is presented as an individual right, Quigley confirms that ‘this is also true of most rights in international human rights instruments’. Indeed, the movement of people has historically taken on a collective dimension. Accordingly, to deny the availability of human rights simply because individuals form part of a mass group would render those rights illusory.[9]

Right of return in case law

Few cases have dealt with the right of return principle. In 1996, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled in a landmark case known as Loizidou v Turkey. Mrs Titina Loizidou was a Greek-Cypriot refugee displaced from Northern Cyprus and prevented from returning by Turkey. The court ruled that Turkey had violated Mrs Loizidou's human rights, that she should be allowed to return to her home and that Turkey should pay damages to her.[14]

In a similar case, petitioners for the Chagossians asked the ECHR in 2005 to rule about their removal from Diego Garcia by Great Britain in the 1960s. The court ruled in 2012 that their case was inadmissible and that by accepting compensation, the islanders had forfeited their claim:

The Court notably found that the heart of the applicants’ claims under the European Convention on Human Rights was the callous and shameful treatment which they or their antecedents had suffered during their removal from the Chagos islands. These claims had, however, been raised in the domestic courts and settled, definitively. In accepting and receiving compensation, the applicants had effectively renounced bringing any further claims to determine whether the expulsion and exclusion from their homes had been unlawful and breached their rights and they therefore could no longer claim to be victims of a violation of the Convention.[15]

Non-state groups claiming a right of return


Circassians are an indigenous ethnic group originating from the northwestern Caucasus. Throughout the 19th century, the Russian Empire adopted a policy to eradicate Circassians from their ancestral homelands, pushing most surviving Circassians into the diaspora.[16] Many Circassians have expressed an interest in returning to Circassia, particularly Circassians fleeing the conflict in Syria.[16]

Georgian refugees and internally displaced persons

During Abkhazia's war of secession in 1992-1993 and the second Abkhazia war in 1998, 200,000-250,000 Georgian civilians became internally displaced persons (IDPs) and refugees. Abkhazia, while formally agreeing to repatriation, has hindered the return of refugees both officially and unofficially for more than fifteen years.[17]


During the Turkish invasion of Cyprus, 40% of the Greek-Cypriot population as well as over half of the Turk-Cypriot population of the island were displaced. The island was divided along ethnic lines and most of the Greek-Cypriot displaced persons were not allowed to return to their homes in the northern Turk-Cypriot side and vice versa.

Plans for a solution of the conflict has centered around bilateral agreements of population exchange, such as the Third Vienna Agreement reached in 1975 or the proposed Annan Plan of 2004. In these plans, the right of return was to be severely limited with respect to Greek-Cypriot internally displaced persons/refugees to districts such as Kyrenia, Morphou, Famagusta, and parts of Nicosia, despite judgements of the European Court of Human Rights in cases such as Loizidou v. Turkey, and numerous UN resolutions recognizing the right of return (such as SC 361 and GA 3212). Two referendums on the Annan Plan were held in April 2004, separately along ethnic lines. The Annan Plan was overwhelmingly rejected in the Greek-Cypriot referendum.

The right of return continues to remain a stumbling block to the settlement of the Cyprus problem.

Diego Garcia Chagossians

The Chagossians, an ethnic group residing on the island of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, were expelled to Mauritius in the 1960s, in connection with the erection of an American strategic military installation on the island. Ever since, the Chagossians have been conducting a persistent political and legal struggle to return to Diego Garcia. As of 2007, their right to return was recognised by several British courts but the UK government failed to actually implement it (see Chagossians, Depopulation of Diego Garcia, Order in Council#United Kingdom).


Palestinian refugees argue that international law guarantees them a right to return to their former homes in Mandatory Palestine and a right to property they left behind in what is now Israel.[18] Israel's Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, was reported as saying in June 2017 that his government will not allow any Palestinians to settle in the lands claimed by them and currently part of Israeli territory.[19]

Countries with laws conferring a right of return


Article 14 of the Constitution of the Republic of Armenia (1995) provides that "[i]ndividuals of Armenian origin shall acquire citizenship of the Republic of Armenia through a simplified procedure."[20] This provision is consistent with the Declaration on Independence of Armenia, issued by the Supreme Soviet of the Republic of Armenia in 1989, which declared at article 4 that "Armenians living abroad are entitled to the citizenship of the Republic of Armenia".


Article 36 (3) of the Constitution of Estonia states that "Every Estonian is entitled to settle in Estonia."[21]


Persons of Finnish origin may receive citizenship by declaration, which is faster and cheaper than naturalization and has fewer requirements. Persons of Finnish origin can be: 1) children, born abroad, of a Finnish father; 2) 12-17-year-old adopted children; 3) former Finnish citizens; 4) citizens of another Nordic country; 5) 18-22-year-olds with a long residency in Finland.[22] Formerly, Finland also accepted returnees with a Soviet passport (or post-Soviet passport) where the ethnicity was marked as Finnish. This allowed the immigration of Ingrian Finns and other Finns who had remained in the Soviet Union. Persons who served in the Finnish Defence Forces or Finnish persons evacuated by German or Finnish authorities from occupied areas to Finland during World War II also qualified as returnees. However, these options are no longer available, and applicants must qualify for ordinary naturalization instead.


Another early example of national law recognizing the Right of Return was the French constitution of 1791, enacted on 15 December 1790:[2]

the freedom of everyone to go, to stay, or to leave, without being halted or arrested unless in accordance with procedures established by the Constitution.

The constitution put an end to the centuries-long persecution and discrimination of Huguenots (French Protestants).

Concurrently with making all Protestants resident in France into full-fledged citizens, the law enacted on December 15, 1790 stated that:

All persons born in a foreign country and descending in any degree of a French man or woman expatriated for religious reason are declared French nationals (naturels français) and will benefit to rights attached to that quality if they come back to France, establish their domicile there and take the civic oath.[23]

The Revocation of the Edict of Nantes and expulsion of the Huguenots had taken place more than a century earlier, and there were extensive Huguenot diasporas in many countries, where they often intermarried with the population of the host country. Therefore, the law potentially conferred French citizenship on numerous Britons, Germans, South Africans and others – though only a fraction actually took advantage of it. This option for Huguenot descendants to gain French citizenship remained open until 1945, when it was abolished - since after the Occupation of France, the French were unwilling to let Germans of Huguenot origin to take advantage of it.

In October 1985, French President François Mitterrand issued a public apology to the descendants of Huguenots around the world.[24]


German law allows (1) persons descending from German nationals of any ethnicity or (2) persons of ethnic German descent and living in countries of the former Warsaw Pact (as well as Yugoslavia) the right to "return" to Germany and ("re")claim German citizenship (Aussiedler/Spätaussiedler "late emigrants"). After legislative changes in late 1992 this right is de facto restricted to ethnic Germans from the former Soviet Union. As with many legal implementations of the Right of Return, the "return" to Germany of individuals who may never have lived in Germany based on their ethnic origin or their descent from German nationals has been controversial. The law is codified in paragraph 1 of Article 116 of the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, which provides access to German citizenship for anyone "who has been admitted to the territory of the German Reich within the boundaries of December 31, 1937 as a refugee or expellee of German ethnic origin or as the spouse or descendant of such person".[25] Those territories had a Polish minority, which also had German citizenship and after World War II lived in Poland. These Polish people are also Aussiedler or Spätaussiedler and came especially in the 1980s to Germany, see Emigration from Poland to Germany after World War II. For example Lukas Podolski and Eugen Polanski[26] became German citizens by this law. Paragraph 2 of Article 116 also provides that "Former German citizens who between 30 January 1933 and 8 May 1945 were deprived of their citizenship on political, racial or religious grounds, and their descendants, shall on application have their citizenship restored".[25]

The historic context for Article 116 was the eviction, following World War II, of an estimated 9 million foreign ethnic Germans from other countries in Central and Eastern Europe. Another 9 million German nationals in the former eastern German territories, over which Joseph Stalin and eastern neighbour states extended military hegemony in 1945, were expelled as well. These expellees and refugees, known as Heimatvertriebene, were given refugee status and documents, and—as to foreign ethnic Germans—also the German citizenship (in 1949), and resettled in Germany. The Discussion of possible compensation continues; this, however, has been countered by possible claims for war compensation from Germany's eastern neighbours, pertaining to both Germany's unconditional surrender and the series of population transfers carried out under the instruments of Potsdam.


Ghana grants an indefinite right to stay in Ghana to members of the African diaspora with African ancestry.[27]


Various phenomena throughout Greek history (the extensive colonization by classical Greek city states, the vast expansion of Greek culture in Hellenistic times, the large dominions at times held by the Greek-speaking Byzantine Empire, and the energetic trading activity by Greeks under the Ottomans) all tended to create Greek communities far beyond the boundaries of modern Greece.

Recognizing this situation, Greece grants citizenship to broad categories of people of ethnic Greek ancestry who are members of the Greek diaspora, including individuals and families whose ancestors have been resident in diaspora communities outside the modern state of Greece for centuries or millennia.[28]

"Foreign persons of Greek origin", who neither live in Greece nor hold Greek citizenship nor were necessarily born there, may become Greek citizens by enlisting in Greece's military forces, under article 4 of the Code of Greek Citizenship, as amended by the Acquisition of Greek Nationality by Aliens of Greek Origin Law (Law 2130/1993). Anyone wishing to do so must present a number of documents, including "[a]vailable written records ... proving the Greek origin of the interested person and his ancestors."

Albania has demanded since the 1940s that Greece grant a Right of Return to the Muslim Cham Albanians, who were expelled from the Greek region of Epirus between 1944 and 1945, at the end of World War II – a demand firmly rejected by the Greeks (see Cham issue).


In 2010, Hungary passed a law granting citizenship and the right of return to descendants of Hungarians living mostly on the former territory of the Hungarian Kingdom and now residing in Hungary's neighbouring countries. Slovakia, which has 500,000 ethnic Magyar citizens (10% of its population) objected vociferously.[29]


The Law of Return is legislation enacted by Israel in 1950, that gives all Jews, persons of Jewish ancestry up to at least one Jewish grandparent, and spouses of Jews the right to immigrate to and settle in Israel and obtain citizenship, and obliges the Israeli government to facilitate their immigration. Originally, the law applied to Jews only, until a 1970 amendment stated that the rights "are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew". This resulted in several hundreds of thousands of persons fitting the above criteria immigrating to Israel (mainly from the former Soviet Union) but not being recognized as Jews by the Israeli religious authorities, which on the basis of halakha recognize only the child of a Jewish mother as being Jewish, or a proselyte to Judaism. Moreover, some of these immigrants, though having a Jewish grandparent, are known to be practicing Christians. People who would be otherwise eligible for this law can be excluded if they can reasonably be considered to constitute a danger to the welfare of the state, have a criminal past, or are wanted fugitives in their countries with the exception of persecution victims. Jews who converted to another religion can also be denied the right of return. Since its inception in 1948, over three million Jews have immigrated to Israel.[30]


From the Constitution of Lithuania, Article 32(4): "Every Lithuanian person may settle in Lithuania."[31]


From the Constitution of Poland, Article 52(5): "Anyone whose Polish origin has been confirmed in accordance with statute may settle permanently in Poland."[32]


On April 12, 2013, the Portuguese parliament unanimously approved a measure that allows the descendants of Jews expelled from Portugal in the 16th century to become Portuguese citizens.[33]


Sephardi Jews were expelled from Spain in 1492. Despite the requirement by general rule for obtaining Spanish nationality after five years of residence in Spain, by Royal Decree on the 20th of December 1924, Sephardi Jews can obtain Spanish nationality with two years of residence in Spain. From 1924 until 2015 Sephardi Jews living abroad could also ask the Spanish Government for a conferment of Spanish nationality, but the Government enjoyed full discretion as to the decision whether to grant Spanish nationality. On June 24, 2015, the Spanish Parliament approved the 12/2015 Act, the Law Granting the Nationality to Sephardi Jews, that grants the Spanish nationality automatically to Sephardi Jews living abroad, provided they can prove that they are descendants of the Sephardi Jews expelled in 1492.

In 2007, the Spanish Parliament approved the 57/2007 Act, the Law of Historical Memory. The 57/2007 Act provides for the descendants of Spaniards living abroad that left Spain because of political persecution during the Civil War and Franco's dictatorship — that is the period between 1936-1975 — to obtain Spanish nationality.

Finally, following the British conquest of Gibraltar in August 1704, the original Spanish population of Gibraltar was expelled and established in the surrounding area called "Campo de Gibraltar". The expelled population established the Gibraltarian institutions, the census and the archives in the City of San Roque, which officially is still "Gibraltar in exile". Despite claims to the right of return by the association of descendants of expelled Gibraltarians, neither the Spanish Government nor the British Government have recognised any right of return for the expelled Gibraltarians.

See also


  1. ^ "United Nations Audiovisual Library of International Law". legal.un.org. Retrieved 2017-03-15.
  2. ^ a b c J.D. Inglés (1963), Study of Discrimination in Respect of the Right of Everyone to Leave any Country, Including His Own, and to Return to His Country, Geneva, UN, UN Sales no. 64.XIV.2, UN Doc E/CN.4/Sub.2/220/Rev.1
  3. ^ Xenophon. Hellenica, 2.2.9: "Meantime Lysander, upon reaching Aegina, restored the state to the Aeginetans, gathering together as many of them as he could, and he did the same thing for the Melians also and for all the others who had been deprived of their native states."
  4. ^ Plutarch. Life of Lysander, 14.3: "But there were other measures of Lysander upon which all the Greeks looked with pleasure, when, for instance, the Aeginetans, after a long time, received back their own city, and when the Melians and Scionaeans were restored to their homes by him, after the Athenians had been driven out and had delivered back the cities."
  5. ^ Bradley, Megan: "Liberal Democracies' Divergent Interpretations of the Right of Return: Implications for Free Movement", Democratic Citizenship and the Free Movement of People, 2013
  6. ^ http://www.bl.uk/learning/timeline/item95692.html
  7. ^ André Encrevé, French Protestants, in Rainer Liedtke, Stephan Wendehorst, eds., Emancipation of Catholic Jews: Minorities and the Nation-State in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Manchester University Press, 1999, p.66
  8. ^ Boling, Gail J. Palestinian Refugees and the Right of Return: An International Law Analysis, BADIL - Information & Discussion Brief Issue No. 8, January 2001
  9. ^ a b c Bracka, Jeremie Maurice. Past the Point of no Return? The Palestinian Right of Return in International Human Rights Law, Melbourne Journal of International Law, Melbourne, 2005
  10. ^ UN Human Rights Committee (HRC), HRC in General Comment 27 CCPR General Comment No. 27: Article 12 (Freedom of Movement), 2 November 1999, CCPR/C/21/Rev.1/Add.9
  11. ^ Ruth Lapidoth (September 1, 2002). "Legal Aspects of the Palestinian Refugee Question". Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
  12. ^ Hurst Hannum, The Right to Leave and Return in International Law and Practice, p.59
  13. ^ Manfred Nowak, U.N. Covenant on Civil and Political Rights: CCPR Commentary, p.220, 1993
  14. ^ Enrico Milano, Unlawful territorial situations in international law, p.143
  15. ^ Chagos islanders’ case inadmissible because they accepted compensation and waived the right to bring any further claims before the UK national courts
  16. ^ a b Wiley, Mason. Circassian Right of Return: “Putin The Terrible or Putin The Enlightened?. American University Washington College of Law 2015.
  17. ^ Gregory F. Treverton, Dividing Divided States, p.41
  18. ^ Lawand, Kathleen (1996). "The Right to Return of Palestinians in International Law". International Journal of Refugee Law. 8 (4): 532–568. doi:10.1093/ijrl/8.4.532.
  19. ^ O'Connor, Tom (23 June 2017). "Israel Will Not Accept A Single Palestinian To Old Borders, Says Defense Minister". Newsweek. Retrieved 24 June 2017.
  20. ^ "ICL - Armenia - Constitution". Retrieved 7 February 2015.
  21. ^ "The Constitution of the Republic of Estonia – Riigi Teataja". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  22. ^ https://migri.fi/suomen-kansalaisuus
  23. ^ André Encrevé, French Protestants, in Rainer Liedtke, Stephan Wendehorst, eds., Emancipation of Catholic Jews: Minorities and the Nation-State in Nineteenth-Century Europe, Manchester University Press, 1999, p.66
  24. ^ "Allocution de M. François Mitterrand, Président de la République, aux cérémonies du tricentenaire de la Révocation de l'Edit de Nantes, sur la tolérance en matière politique et religieuse et l'histoire du protestantisme en France, Paris, Palais de l'UNESCO, vendredi 11 octobre 1985. - vie-publique.fr". Discours.vie-publique.fr. 1985-10-11. Retrieved 2016-04-04.
  25. ^ a b Basic Law Archived 2016-03-04 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ "GIBT ES EIN OBERSCHLESISCHES ETHNIKUM?". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  27. ^ Dovi, Efam (11 May 2015). "Ghana, a place for African-Americans to resettle". The Africa Report. Retrieved 16 July 2018.
  28. ^ US Embassy in Athens Archived 2008-07-05 at the Wayback Machine
  29. ^ Pandora's Passport, Hungary extends citizenship beyond its borders, Slovakia retaliates," The Economist, June 5, 2010, p. 60.
  30. ^ "400 olim arrive in Israel ahead of Independence Day - Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews". Ynetnews.com. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  31. ^ "ICL - Lithuania - Constitution". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  32. ^ "ICL - Poland - Constitution". Retrieved 15 July 2016.
  33. ^ "Descendants of Jews who fled persecution may claim Portuguese citizenship". Retrieved 15 July 2016.

External links

2000 Camp David Summit

The 2000 Camp David Summit was a summit meeting at Camp David between United States president Bill Clinton, Israeli prime minister Ehud Barak and Palestinian Authority chairman Yasser Arafat. The summit took place between 11 and 25 July 2000 and was an effort to end the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. The summit ended without an agreement.


Indur (Arabic: إندور‎) was a Palestinian village, located 10.5 kilometres (6.5 mi) southeast of Nazareth. Its name preserves that of ancient Endor, a Canaanite city state thought to have been located 1 kilometre (0.62 mi) to the northeast. The village was depopulated during the 1948 Arab–Israeli War and its inhabitants became refugees, some of whom were internally displaced. In Israel today, there are a few thousand internally displaced Palestinians who hail from Indur, and continue to demand their right of return.

Internally displaced person

An internally displaced person (IDP) is someone who is forced to flee his or her home but who remains within his or her country's borders. They are often referred to as refugees, although they do not fall within the legal definitions of a refugee.

At the end of 2014, it was estimated there were 38.2 million IDPs worldwide, the highest level since 1989, the first year for which global statistics on IDPs are available. The countries with the largest IDP populations were Syria (7.6 million), Colombia (6 million), Iraq (3.6 million), the Democratic Republic of the Congo (2.8 million), Sudan (2.2 million), South Sudan (1.9 million), Pakistan (1.4 million), Nigeria (1.2 million) and Somalia (1.1 million).The United Nations and UNHCR support monitoring and analysis of worldwide IDPs through the Geneva-based Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.


Iqrit (Arabic: إقرت‎ or إقرث, Iqrith), was a Palestinian Christian village, located 25 kilometres (16 miles) northeast of Acre. Originally allotted to form part of an Arab state under the proposed 1947 UN Partition Plan, it was seized and forcefully depopulated by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, and their territory later became part of the new State of Israel. All of its Christian inhabitants were forced to flee to Lebanon or the Israeli village of Rameh, after they were expelled by Jewish forces in 1948, and, despite the promise that they would be returned in two weeks' time, the villagers were never allowed to return. In 1951, in response to a plea from the Iqrit villagers, the Israeli Supreme Court ruled that the former residents of Iqrit be allowed to return to their homes. However, before that happened, the IDF, despite awareness of the Supreme Court decision, destroyed the previously Christian village on Christmas Day, 1951. Descendants to this day maintain an outpost in the village church, and bury their dead in its cemetery. All attempts to cultivate its lands are uprooted by the Israeli Lands Administration.

Israeli–Palestinian conflict

The Israeli–Palestinian conflict (Hebrew: הסכסוך הישראלי-פלסטיני‎, translit. Ha'Sikhsukh Ha'Yisraeli-Falestini; Arabic: النزاع-الفلسطيني الإسرائيلي‎, translit. al-Niza'a al-Filastini-al-Israili) is the ongoing struggle between Israelis and Palestinians that began in the mid-20th century. The origins to the conflict can be traced back to Jewish immigration and sectarian conflict in Mandatory Palestine between Jews and Arabs. It has been referred to as the world's "most intractable conflict", with the ongoing Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip reaching 52 years.Despite a long-term peace process and the general reconciliation of Israel with Egypt and Jordan, Israelis and Palestinians have failed to reach a final peace agreement. The key issues are: mutual recognition, borders, security, water rights, control of Jerusalem, Israeli settlements, Palestinian freedom of movement, and Palestinian right of return. The violence of the conflict, in a region rich in sites of historic, cultural and religious interest worldwide, has been the object of numerous international conferences dealing with historic rights, security issues and human rights, and has been a factor hampering tourism in and general access to areas that are hotly contested.Many attempts have been made to broker a two-state solution, involving the creation of an independent Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel (after Israel's establishment in 1948). In 2007, the majority of both Israelis and Palestinians, according to a number of polls, preferred the two-state solution over any other solution as a means of resolving the conflict. Moreover, a majority of Jews see the Palestinians' demand for an independent state as just, and thinks Israel can agree to the establishment of such a state. The majority of Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have expressed a preference for a two-state solution. Mutual distrust and significant disagreements are deep over basic issues, as is the reciprocal scepticism about the other side's commitment to upholding obligations in an eventual agreement.Within Israeli and Palestinian society, the conflict generates a wide variety of views and opinions. This highlights the deep divisions which exist not only between Israelis and Palestinians, but also within each society. A hallmark of the conflict has been the level of violence witnessed for virtually its entire duration. Fighting has been conducted by regular armies, paramilitary groups, terror cells, and individuals. Casualties have not been restricted to the military, with a large number of fatalities in civilian population on both sides. There are prominent international actors involved in the conflict.

The two parties engaged in direct negotiation are the Israeli government, currently led by Benjamin Netanyahu, and the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), currently headed by Mahmoud Abbas. The official negotiations are mediated by an international contingent known as the Quartet on the Middle East (the Quartet) represented by a special envoy, that consists of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations. The Arab League is another important actor, which has proposed an alternative peace plan. Egypt, a founding member of the Arab League, has historically been a key participant. Jordan, having relinquished its claim to the West Bank in 1988 and holding a special role in the Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem, has also been a key participant.

Since 2006, the Palestinian side has been fractured by conflict between the two major factions: Fatah, the traditionally dominant party, and its later electoral challenger, Hamas. After Hamas's electoral victory in 2006, the Quartet conditioned future foreign assistance to the Palestinian National Authority (PA) on the future government's commitment to non-violence, recognition of the State of Israel, and acceptance of previous agreements. Hamas rejected these demands, which resulted in the Quartet's suspension of its foreign assistance program, and the imposition of economic sanctions by the Israelis. A year later, following Hamas's seizure of power in the Gaza Strip in June 2007, the territory officially recognized as the PA was split between Fatah in the West Bank, and Hamas in the Gaza Strip. The division of governance between the parties had effectively resulted in the collapse of bipartisan governance of the PA. However, in 2014, a Palestinian Unity Government, composed of both Fatah and Hamas, was formed. The latest round of peace negotiations began in July 2013 and was suspended in 2014.

Jordanian nationality law

Jordanian citizenship is the status of being a citizen of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan and it can be obtained by birth or naturalisation.

The Jordanian nationality is transmitted by paternity (father) (see Jus sanguinis). Therefore, a Jordanian man who holds Jordanian citizenship can automatically confer citizenship to his children and foreign wives. Under the current law, descendants of Jordanian emigrants can only receive citizenship from their father as women cannot pass on citizenship to their children or foreign spouses. Since 2010, there has been an increasing public demand for giving the opportunity for Jordanian women to transmit their Jordanian nationality to their children and also to their husbands.

In recent years, Jordan, the only Arab country with a significant population of assimilated Palestinian refugees that provides citizenship, has been found to be unexpectedly stripping Jordanian citizenship from citizens of Palestinian origin, leading to growing concerns and amplifying the national debate over the Palestinian presence in Jordan and the Palestinian right of return in relation to the preservation of Palestinian territories from Israeli forces.

Law of Return

The Law of Return (Hebrew: חֹוק הַשְׁבוּת, ḥok ha-shvūt) is an Israeli law, passed on 5 July 1950, which gives Jews the right to come and live in Israel and to gain Israeli citizenship. Section 1 of the Law of Return declares:

"every Jew has the right to come to this country as an oleh [immigrant]."In the Law of Return, the State of Israel gave effect to the Zionist movement's "credo" which called for the establishment of Israel as a Jewish state.

In 1970, the right of entry and settlement was extended to people with one Jewish grandparent and a person who is married to a Jew, whether or not he or she is considered Jewish under Orthodox interpretations of Halakha.On the day of arrival in Israel or at a later date, a person who enters Israel under the Law of Return as an oleh would receive a certificate stating that s/he is indeed an oleh. The oleh has three months to decide whether s/he wishes to become a citizen and can renounce citizenship during this time. The right to an oleh certificate may be denied if the person is engaged in activity directed against the Jewish people, endangers public health or security of the state, or who has a criminal past that may endanger public welfare.

Lithuanian nationality law

Lithuanian nationality law operates on the jus sanguinus principle, whereby persons who have a claim to Lithuanian ancestry, either through parents, grandparents, great-grandparents may claim Lithuanian nationality.. Citizenship may also be granted by naturalization. Naturalization requires a residency period, an examination in the Lithuanian language, examination results demonstrating familiarity with the Lithuanian Constitution, a demonstrated means of support, and an oath of loyalty. A right of return clause was included in the 1991 constitution for persons who left Lithuania after its occupation by the Soviet Union in 1940 and their descendants. Lithuanian citizens are also citizens of the European Union and thus enjoy rights of free movement and have the right to vote in elections for the European Parliament.

Nationality law

Nationality law (or citizenship law) is the law in each country and in each jurisdiction within each country which defines the rights and obligations of citizenship within the jurisdiction and the manner in which citizenship is acquired as well as how citizenship may be lost. A person who is not a citizen of the country is generally regarded as a foreigner, also referred to as an alien. A person who has no recognised nationality or citizenship is regarded as stateless.

Palestinian refugees

The term "Palestine refugees" originally referred to both Arabs and Jews whose normal place of residence had been in Mandatory Palestine but were displaced and lost their livelihoods as a result of the 1948 Palestine war.

The UNRWA definition of the term includes the patrilineal descendants of the original "Palestine refugees", but is limited to persons residing in UNRWA's areas of operation in the Palestinian territories, Lebanon, Jordan and Syria.In 2012, there were an estimated 4,950,000 registered patrilineal descendants of the original "Palestine refugees", based on the UNRWA registration requirements, of which an estimated 1.5 million lived in UNRWA camps. The number of original refugees "who meet UNRWA's Palestine Refugee criteria" was 711,000 in 1950 of which approximately 30,000–50,000 were still alive in 2012. The term does not include internally displaced Palestinians, who became Israeli citizens and neither displaced Palestinian Jews. According to some estimates, as many as 1,049,848–1,380,714 people, who descend from displaced people of Mandatory Palestine are not registered under UNRWA and neither UNHCR mandates.

During the 1948 Palestine War, around 85% (720,000 people) of the Palestinian Arab population of what became Israel fled or were expelled from their homes, to the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and to the countries of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan. They, and their descendants, who are also entitled to registration, are assisted by UNWRA in 59 registered camps, 10 of which were established in the aftermath of the Six-Day War in 1967 to cope with new Palestinian refugees. Being the only refugees in the world to be mainly inherited, including unregistered, displaced persons and refugee descendants, the Palestinian Arab refugee and displaced population has grown to be the second largest in the world, after an estimated 11,000,000 Syrians displaced by the Syrian Civil War. They are also the world's oldest unsettled refugee population, having been under the ongoing governance of Arab states following the 1948 Arab–Israeli War, the refugee populations of the West Bank under Israeli governance since the Six-Day War and Palestinian administration since 1994, and the Gaza Strip administered by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) since 2007. Citizenship or legal residency in host countries is denied in Lebanon where the absorption of Palestinians would upset a delicate confessional balance, but available in Jordan where approximately 40% of UNWRA-registered Palestinian refugees have acquired full citizenship rights.On 11 December 1948, the UN General Assembly in non-binding Resolution 194, Article 11 resolved that the refugees who wish to "live at peace with their neighbors ... should be permitted" to return to their homes at the "earliest practicable date" This forms one basis for the Palestinian political claim for a 'Palestinian right of return'.

An independent poll conducted in 2003 with the Palestinian populations of Gaza, West Bank, Jordan and Lebanon showed that the majority (54%) would accept a financial compensation and a place to live in West Bank or Gaza in place of returning to the exact place in modern-day Israel where they or their ancestors lived (this possibility of settlement is contemplated in the Resolution 194). Only 10% said they would live in Israel if given the option.

Palestinian right of return

The Palestinian right of return (Arabic: حق العودة‎, Ḥaqq al-ʿawda; Hebrew: זכות השיבה‎, zkhut hashivah) is the political position or principle that Palestinian refugees, both first-generation refugees (c. 30,000 to 50,000 people still alive as of 2012) and their descendants (c. 5 million people as of 2012), have a right to return, and a right to the property they themselves or their forebears left behind or were forced to leave in what is now Israel and the Palestinian territories (both formerly part of the British Mandate of Palestine), as part of the 1948 Palestinian exodus, a result of the 1948 Palestine war, and due to the 1967 Six-Day War.

Formulated for the first time on 27 June 1948 by United Nations mediator Folke Bernadotte, proponents of the right of return hold that it is a sacred right, as well as a human right, whose applicability both generally and specifically to the Palestinians is protected under international law. This view holds that those who opt not to return or for whom return is not feasible, should receive compensation in lieu. Proponents argue that Israel's position stands in contrast with its Law of Return that grants all Jews the right to settle permanently, while withholding any comparable right from Palestinians.Opponents of the right of return hold that there is no basis for it in international law, and that it is an unrealistic demand. The government of Israel does not view the admission of Palestinian refugees to their former homes in Israel as a right, but rather as a political issue to be resolved as part of a final peace settlement.

Rejectionist Front

The Rejectionist Front (Arabic: جبهة الرفض) or Front of the Palestinian Forces Rejecting Solutions of Surrender (جبهة القوى الفلسطينية الرافضة للحلول الإستسلامية) was a political coalition formed in 1974 by radical Palestinian factions who rejected the Ten Point Program adopted by the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) in its 12th Palestinian National Congress (PNC) session.While affirming the PLO's commitment to fight Israel, the Fatah-sponsored Ten Point Program authorized the PLO to "establish [an] independent combatant national authority for the people over every part of Palestinian territory that is liberated", which was regarded by many Palestinians as a possible first step towards a two-state proposal. At the same PNC session, the ultimate goal of the PLO was defined as recovering the Palestinian right of return and right of self-determination "on the whole of the soil of their homeland".This prompted several of the more militant Palestinian factions to leave the PLO in protest and form the Rejectionist Front. They were mostly far-left organizations fearing a Palestinian-Israeli rapprochement. The Front was never an operative organization, but rather a statement of position. It was strongly backed by Iraq.

While the involved factions continued to advocate a hard-line policy towards Israel, most of them eventually rejoined the PLO, for example in 1977, when the Steadfastness and Confrontation Front was announced. But tensions remained, and the Rejectionist Front or similar initiatives were revived virtually every time Arafat made a conciliatory gesture towards Israel. The most serious rift was in 1988, when the PLO recognized Israel, and most of the left wing of the PLO again left, backed by Syria.


Repatriation is the process of returning an asset, an item of symbolic value or a person – voluntarily or forcibly – to its owner or their place of origin or citizenship. The term may refer to non-human entities, such as converting a foreign currency into the currency of one's own country, as well as to the process of returning military personnel to their place of origin following a war. It also applies to diplomatic envoys, international officials as well as expatriates and migrants in time of international crisis. For refugees, asylum seekers and illegal migrants, repatriation can mean either voluntary return or deportation.

Salman Abu Sitta

Salman Abu Sitta (Arabic: سلمان ابو ستة‎; born 1937) is a Palestinian researcher most known for his ground-breaking project mapping historic Palestine and developing a practical plan for implementing the right of return of Palestinian refugees.

Solidarity Party (Lebanon)

The Solidarity Party (Hizb Al-Tadamon Al-Lubnany; Arabic:حزب التضامن اللبناني) is a Lebanese political party established and led by Emile Rahme and part of the March 8 Alliance. It had one seat in the 2009 Lebanese elections.Emile Gorges Rahme was born on March 1, 1952 in Deir El Ahmar and attended Sharkieh School in Zahle. Since childhood, Rahme was distinguished by an instinctive tendency to politics, so he enrolled into the Lebanese University and graduated with a master's degree in Personal Rights field.

Rahme began early his reforming political life, so he presided in 1975, during his last academic year, “The Awakening Movement” (Harakat Al Wa’ai), a student movement calling for student rights and equality among them. Ten years later, Rahme established “Solidarity Party” (Hizb el-Tadamon) that he still presides till nowadays.

In 1986, Rahme was the official legal representative of the Lebanese Forces, and defended in 1994 their leader Samir Geagea and Mr. Fouad Malek in addition to all Lebanese Forces members before justice after being arrested.

Since the beginning of his political life, Emile Rahme was known for his commitment and dedication. In 1982, he attended the Christian Democratic International in the Belgian and Italian Parliaments. In 1986 and till now, he is an active member in the Maronite Union. Furthermore, he was present at the Maronite Congress in Canada in 1985, in New York in 1989, and in Los Angeles in 1994 and 2002. Rahme is also considered an active member in the National Christian Union Committee since 2008. Finally, he was elected in 2003 “Coordinator of Lebanese Parties to support the Palestinian Right of Return and refusal of Resettlement”.

Emile Rahme, who was in 2000 an external candidate in Bcharre District, is currently the deputy for the Maronite seat of Baalbeck-Hermel District.

Syrian diaspora

Syrian diaspora refers to Syrian migrants and their descendants who, whether by choice or coercion, emigrated from Syria and now reside in other countries as either immigrants or refugees of the Syrian Civil War.

The number of Syrians outside Syria are estimated to be from 8 to possibly 13 million, nearly half of the country's population. The UNHCR reports that 4.9 million global refugees in 2015 were Syrian nationals. Under the current Syrian nationality law, diaspora Syrians do not have an automatic right of return to Syria and under the controversial 2018 "Absentees law" the Assad government confiscated property of millions of Syrians.

The Clinton Parameters

The Clinton Parameters (Hebrew: מתווה קלינטון‎, Mitveh Clinton) were guidelines for a permanent status agreement to resolve the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. They were proposed by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, following stagnating negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians from 19 to 23 December 2000. The Parameters were the compromises that Clinton believed to be the best possible within the margins of the positions of the two parties. The Clinton Parameters were meant to be the basis for further negotiations.

The proposal was presented on 23 December. On 28 December, the Israeli Government formally accepted the plan with reservations. In a meeting in the White House, on 2 January 2001, Yasser Arafat also officially accepted the parameters with reservations. The White House confirmed this the following day in a statement which said that "both sides have now accepted the president's ideas with some reservations." In 2005, Clinton wrote that he considered the Israeli reservations within the Parameters and the Palestinians' outside them. Others argue that Clinton's parameters denied Palestinians what they were legally entitled to under international law, specifically, sovereignty over the entirety of the West Bank and East Jerusalem, Palestinian refugees' right of return to Israeli territory they inhabited before 1948 and dismemberment of Israeli settlements on Palestinian West Bank territory.

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194

United Nations General Assembly Resolution 194 was adopted on December 11, 1948, near the end of the 1948 Arab–Israeli War. The Resolution defined principles for reaching a final settlement and returning Palestine refugees to their homes. It resolved that “refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.” (Article 11)The resolution also called for the establishment of the United Nations Conciliation Commission to facilitate peace between Israel and Arab states, continuing the efforts of UN Mediator Folke Bernadotte, following his assassination.Of the 58 members of the United Nations at that time, the resolution was adopted by a majority of 35 countries, with 15 voting against and 8 abstaining. Significantly, all six Arab League countries then represented at the UN – Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Syria and Yemen, all of which were parties to the conflict in question – voted against the resolution. The other significant group which voted against comprised the Communist bloc member countries: Byelorrusian SSR, Czechoslovakia, Poland, Ukrainian SSR, USSR, Yugoslavia, all of which had already recognised Israel as a de jure state. Israel was not a member of the United Nations at the time, and objected to many of the resolution's articles. The Palestinians were not directly consulted.

The resolution, especially Article 11, has been cited in United Nations General Assembly Resolution 302 establishing the UNRWA and other UN resolutions. It has also been invoked in support of claims of Palestinian right of return, claims which have been rejected by Israeli governments.

Willow Run Air Force Station

Willow Run Air Force Station is a former United States Air Force station that operated to the east of Willow Run Airport in Michigan.

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