The United Nations and the Question of Palestine

12:15 - 1:15 pm
WCC 1019, Harvard Law School campus
Banner of book talk "The United Nations and the Question of Palestine" on March 5 at 12:15 pm in WCC 1019. With author Ardi Imseis and moderator Zeina Jallad.

Join us as Professor Ardi Imseis discusses his new book on Palestine at the United Nations. Based on primary archival materials and the author’s first-hand experience as a UN Official in Palestine for over a decade, this first of its kind volume aims to provide a critical international legal perspective on why and how the question of Palestine remains a festering wound on the conscience of the international community. The discussion will be moderated by Dr. Zeina Jallad, Resident Fellow with the Institute for Global Law and Policy at Harvard Law School. 

Book Abstract:   

Contrary to conventional wisdom, there has been a continuing though vacillating gulf between the requirements of international law and the UN on the question of Palestine. This book explores the UN’s management of the longest-running problem on its agenda, critically assessing tensions between the organization’s position and international law. What forms has the UN’s failure to respect international law taken, and with what implications? The author critically interrogates the received wisdom regarding the UN’s fealty to the international rule of law, in favour of what is described as an international rule by law. This book demonstrates that through the actions of the UN, Palestine and its people have been committed to a state of what the author calls ‘international legal subalternity’, according to which the promise of justice through international law is repeatedly proffered under a cloak of political legitimacy furnished by the international community, but its realization is interminably withheld. 


Dr. Ardi Imseis is Assistant Professor of Law, Faculty of Law, Queen’s University. Member of the Group of Eminent International and Regional Experts, the UN Human Rights Council commission of inquiry into the civil war in Yemen (2019-2021). Between 2002 and 2014, he served in senior legal and policy capacities in occupied Palestine with the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA) and is former Senior Legal Counsel to the Chief Justice of Alberta. He has provided expert testimony in his personal capacity before various high-level bodies, including the UN Security Council, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and to members of the UK House of Lords and the French Senate. His scholarship has appeared in a wide array of international journals, including the American Journal of International Law, the European Journal of International Law, the Harvard International Law Journal, and the Oxford Journal of Legal Studies. Professor Imseis is former Editor-in-Chief of the Palestine Yearbook of International Law (Brill; 2008-2019) and Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar and Human Rights Fellow, Columbia Law School. He holds a Ph.D. (Cambridge), an LL.M. (Columbia), LL.B. (Dalhousie), and B.A. (Hons.) (Toronto). 

This event is sponsored by the Center for Middle Eastern Studies, the Program on Law and Society in the Muslim World, the Human Rights Program in Harvard Law School, HLS Advocates for Human Rights, and the Religion, Peace, and Conflict Initiative at the Harvard Divinity School.