Refugees: records in the IALS Archives

Written by Clare Cowling, IALS Archivist |
Image of archival boxes and files shelved on stacks

The IALS Archives holds a small amount of material relating to refugees in the twentieth century.  

The bulk of our records relating to refugees come from one collection, the International Law Association Archives 1866-2019.The International Law Association (ILA) was founded in Brussels in 1873 as an association 'to consist of Jurists, Economists, Legislators, Politicians and others taking an interest in the question of the reform and Codification of Public and Private International Law, the Settlement of Disputes by Arbitration, and the assimilation of the laws, practice and procedure of the Nations in reference to such laws' (afternoon sitting of the first conference of members, 19 November 1873: reference ILA 01/01). It was initially called the Association for the Reform and Codification of the Law of Nations, changing its title to the International Law Association in the early 20th century. The ILA has consultative status, as an international non-governmental organisation, with some of the United Nations specialised agencies. 

The ILA’s records include conference papers from 1948-2000 on issues of displaced persons, statelessness and the legal status of refugees (Ref: ILA/2) and records of the ILA Committees on the Legal Status of Refugees, on Internally Displaced Persons and on Refugee Procedures (1942-2002; ILA/3).  It also contains material on the ILA’s contribution to the International Committee on the Legal Status of Refugees (1986; ILA/4/40) and library material on the right of asylum aid to refugees (1937; ILA/6/9).

There is a small amount of material on Palestinian refugees in the papers of Sir William Dale, 1930s-2003.   In 1968 Dale, a lawyer and civil servant, moved to Beirut as general counsel to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestinian refugees from 1968-1973.   Papers referring to his time in office, comprising a report on his appointment and tributes to his work will be found at DALE/6/2 and DALE/8/2 respectively.  It is also probable that relevant information will be found in his correspondence (1933-2003; DALE/1), diaries (c.1933-c.1996; DALE/2), his papers as the IALS representative in a project to study the existing Palestinian legal infrastructure of the Gaza Strip on Palestine (1994-1996; DALE/3) and his research notes (1934-1998; DALE/4).

Further Information

For full details of our holdings see the Archives guides: Refugees and the Law and Legal Education in Palestine.

About the IALS Archives

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The IALS Archives was established in the 1990s as an outcome of the Records of Legal Education Project, funded by the Leverhulme Trust to investigate the location and availability for research of records of legal education. During the project IALS accepted a number of collections from individuals and organisations which otherwise had no institutional archives or were at risk of loss. Since the end of the project IALS has continued to accept deposits of archive material relating to legal education.  In 2022 the IALS Archives achieved accreditation from The National Archives.

Clare Cowling

Clare Cowling is the IALS Archivist and an experienced archivist and records manager who has worked in legal archives management for many years.