This article examines the right to return of refugees and displaced persons. After an historical overview, the author first interprets the right to return enshrined in the International Bill of Rights. It is argued that there is a growing support for a broad right to return applicable to cases where it is being claimed by mass groups of people, even when non-nationals are concerned.

The second part of the article focuses on the right to return in practice. The application of the right to return in the Middle East and Kosovo will be assessed.

Arguments will be proposed for the Palestinian right to return. This right should not be made subject to political negotiations. The example of Kosovo serves as an illustration of international practice Kosovo where the right to return has been clearly articulated and
accepted. This article is concluded by the argument that the passage of time between the creation of the refugee problem and its resolution should not deny the existence of the right to return.

This article deals with the right to return1 of refugees2 and displaced persons.3 The right to return has been
relevant to solve problems of displacement in countries in all regions of the world, including Bhutan, Bosnia-
Herzegovina, Croatia, East Timor, El Salvador, Guatemala, Kosovo, Cyprus, Georgia, the Middle East and

Under international law, all individuals have a right to return to their homes - commonly referred to
as their ‘homes of origin’- whenever they have become displaced due to circumstances beyond their control.4
In order to achieve a just settlement of refugee or displacement problems, the first and obvious solution would
be to facilitate the voluntary repatriation of the victims.5

Like all human rights, the right to return is an inherent human right that all individuals possess even
if, in actual practice, governments deliberately obstruct its free exercise. Since the right to return is one
accorded under international law, deliberate governmental obstruction of it would violate international law
and will in principle be illegal.6

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