ATbar Assessing UNRWA’s “Willing but Unable” Paradigm

Assessing UNRWA’s “Willing but Unable” Paradigm

31/07/2019 | by Culioli, Charles  

Addressing Terrorism as a Humanitarian Organization in a Highly-Politicized Context

 

ABSTRACT

UNRWA is a humanitarian organization whose mandate was not adapted to combat terrorism. The close relation of the agency to its Palestinian client population both in terms of services and employment led UNRWA to progressively mirror the society in which it evolved. The growing importance of Palestinian refugees in the struggle for the right of return and the use of terrorism in the Israel-Palestine conflict forced UNRWA into a security quagmire. UNRWA has historically claimed that its willingness to prevent terrorism could not be matched by effective action due to a mandate failing to tackle security issues. As a result, UNRWA found itself in a situation in which it was willing but unable to address terrorism. This piece analyzes UNRWA’s internal practices and responses to security actors to assess the real commitment of the agency to the fight against terrorist activities. It finds that UNRWA is willing to act but that the political situation in which it evolves restrains its ability to do so.

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