Last Updated: Wednesday, 17 May 2023, 15:20 GMT

Decision 202004766/1/V1

Publisher Netherlands, The: Council of State (Raad van State)
Publication Date 14 July 2021
Citation / Document Symbol ECLI:NL:RVS:2021:1550
Other Languages / Attachments Decision 202004766/1/V1 | Unofficial English translation
Cite as Decision 202004766/1/V1, ECLI:NL:RVS:2021:1550, Netherlands, The: Council of State (Raad van State), 14 July 2021, available at:,NTL_COS,610a64514.html [accessed 18 May 2023]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Netherlands: Council of State rules Secretary of State must better justify the ability of UNRWA to protect Palestinian refugees in Gaza Strip

On 14 July 2021, the Council of State (Raad van State) published a judgment (202004766/1/V1) in a case concerning the protection capacity of UNRWA.  

The case arises from proceedings between the applicant, a stateless Palestinian from the Gaza Strip and the Secretary of State, following the latter's rejection of the applicant's application for a residence permit. On appeal, the Court of the Hague considered that UNRWA was no longer able to fulfil its mandate in the Gaza Strip and that the applicant was in a situation of serious insecurity in the Gaza Strip. It considered that, as a result, the ground for exclusion from refugee protection Article 1(D) of the Geneva Convention and therefore, Article 12(1)(a) of the recast Qualification Directive 2011/91/EU cannot apply to the applicant so that the Secretary of State must grant him a residence permit. The Secretary of State appealed against this decision. 

On appeal, the Council of State held that the Secretary of State had not properly justified its assertion that UNRWA is capable of offering living conditions in Gaza that are in accordance with its mandate so that the exclusion ground in Article 12(1)(a) of the Qualification Directive applies in the case of the applicant. It noted that UNRWA's mission is not only to protect Palestinian refugees but also to serve their welfare and development, and as a result, this encompasses more than only protecting Palestinian refugees from treatment contrary to Article 3 ECHR. The Council of State considered that the Secretary of State did not provide insights into the standard used to answer the question concerning the extent of UNRWA capacity. It considered that, by merely listing the forms of assistance that UNRWA still provided to Palestinian refugees, the State Secretary did not sufficiently explain how he had assessed the country information submitted by the applicant.  

The Council of State annulled the decision of the Secretary of State and remitted it back for fresh consideration. The Council of State also stated that the new decision must also take into account the current developments in the Gaza Strip, including recent hostilities between Israel and Hamas, along with the reports that the US will resume some of its funding to UNRWA. 

Based on an unofficial translation by the EWLU team. ELENA Weekly Legal Update - 23 July 2021

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