International NGOs call on UN to reassess the ‘Register of Damage’

A general view of the construction site of the Israeli separation wall in Qalandiya between Ramallah and Jerusalem March 18, 2006. (MaanImages/Moamar Awad)

Eighteen international non-governmental organisations and humanitarian agencies have come together to jointly call on the United Nations to reassess its so-called ‘Register of Damage’.

This ‘Register of Damage’ is intended to work as a mechanism for paying out damages to Palestinians whose lives and livelihoods have been affected by Israel’s ongoing, illegal construction of its separation wall in West Bank land. However, the Register has many omissions and shortcomings, which the undersigned international NGOs outline below in their joint press release:

On 15 December 2006, the United Nations General Assembly voted by overwhelming majority to adopt a resolution establishing a United Nations Register of Damage caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.

As international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) with humanitarian and development programs in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt), we work directly with Palestinian communities and have witnessed the harm caused by the construction of the Wall. We welcome the UN Register as a step towards implementing the International Court of Justice (ICJ) advisory opinion of 9 July 2004 that calls on Israel to cease construction and to dismantle those sections of the Wall which are located in the West Bank.

However, the eighteen (18) undersigned INGOs have major concerns about the mandate, structure, and operation of the UN Register of Damage.

The Register as adopted is only a technical tool for registration of individual damage claims. While we believe that it may constitute a valuable database for future adjudications, we seek the establishment of a legal mechanism valid not only for systematic registration, but also for verification on the ground and objective evaluation of damages caused by the construction of the Wall, which foresees restitutions and compensations as per the ICJ advisory opinion.

Moreover, the Register omits claims for collective damages, such as damages to public lands, natural resources, civil infrastructure, commonly-held properties, and environmental harm, and non-material damages, such as effects on mental health and family life. Thus, significant damages experienced by the Palestinian population escape the Register’s purview.

Furthermore, the Register’s operation will be based in Vienna. In order to be effective, we think it must have a fully operational presence in the oPt. Therefore, we request the involvement of UN agencies and offices present on the ground in the oPt in the activities of the Register, specifically the Office of the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA), the Relief and Works Agencies (UNRWA), and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR) whose mandates are connected to the activities of the Register and who have extensive presence and capacity in the field.

Lastly and most importantly, we insist that the Register not replace UN efforts to hold Israel to their legal obligations set by the International Court of Justice advisory opinion. We call on our donor governments and UN Member States to continue to pressure Israel to observe the ICJ advisory opinion and ‘terminate its breaches of international law, cease forthwith the works of construction of the wall being built in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, [and] dismantle forthwith the structure therein situated. Israel is under an obligation to make reparation for all damage caused by the construction of the wall in the occupied Palestinian territory, including in and around East Jerusalem’ (paragraph 163).

Asociacion para la Cooperacion con el Sur (ACSUR) Las Segovias Campaign for the Children of Palestine (CCP) Centro Regionale d?Intervento per la Cooperazione (CRIC) Cooperazione Internazionale Sud-Sud (CISS) Diakonia Handicap International Italian Coalition of Solidarity (ICS) Japan International Volunteer Center (JVC) Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP) UK Medecins du Monde - France Medicos del Mundo - Spain Mennonite Central Committee Paz y Tercer Mundubat (PTM-mundubat) Save the Children - Sweden Swedish Cooperative Centre (SCC) Swedish Organization for Individual Relief (SOIR) Terre des hommes - Italy (Tdh-It) United Nations Association for International Service (UNAIS)

Related Links

  • NGO’s concerned over the working of the UN Register of Damage caused by the Wall, HROs (12 December 2006)
  • What’s the problem with the UN Register of Damage caused by Israel’s wall?, BADIL (18 November 2006)
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