Richard Falk: “Citizen Pilgrim” in the Role of UN Special Rapporteur

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Richard Falk’s quest to combine academic scholarship with political activism is
witnessed throughout his lifework, but perhaps especially so during his tenure
as United Nations special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian
territories occupied since 1967, a position he held from 2008 to 2014. Falk is a
vocal critic of Israel’s occupation and a staunch supporter of Palestinian self-determination, positions that have drawn strong condemnation from Israel and its supporters, but praise from Palestinians and their supporters. There is little doubt that Falk’s work has had a huge influence on public debate and activism pertaining to this issue, both within Israel-Palestine as well as globally. This article outlines Falk’s scholarship and activism regarding Palestine, analyzes the post of UN special rapporteur in general, reviews both criticism of and support for Falk’s work, and assesses Falk’s concept of the “citizen pilgrim.” It concludes by reflecting on what this reveals about the experience of praxis for politically engaged academics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)59-78
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Palestine Studies
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2019


  • UN special sapporteur
  • UN special procedures
  • Richard Falk
  • Israel-Palestine conflict
  • human rights
  • activist scholars

Research Beacons, Institutes and Platforms

  • Humanitarian and Conflict Response Institute


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