UN lays out function of office for Palestinians to claim damages from Israeli barrier

The United Nations has established the institutional framework for a registry of damages incurred by Palestinians to their homes, business and agricultural holdings as result of Israel’s construction of a barrier in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including in and around East Jerusalem, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a report released today.

The purpose of the “Register of Damage” is to document damages for possible future international adjudication, not to settle claims, he said in the report to the UN General Assembly.

“It would be important to understand that the office of the Register of Damage would not be a compensation commission or a claims-resolution facility, nor would it be a judicial or quasi-judicial body,” the report said.

The report responds to a 2004 General Assembly resolution calling for such a registry after the International Court of Justice (ICJ) concluded that Israel violated various international laws by constructing the barrier, which destroyed homes, businesses and agriculture.

“The Court considers that Israel also has an obligation to compensate, in accordance with the applicable rules of international law, all natural or legal persons having suffered any form of material damage as a result of the wall’s construction,” the ICJ said in an advisory opinion.

The Register of Damage is to be overseen by a three-member independent board, appointed by the Secretary-General, and run by a small secretariat in Vienna, headed by an executive director, also appointed by the UN.

One of the Register’s first tasks, the report said, will be to conduct a public awareness and community outreach programme, launched in the Palestinian media, to explain the purpose of the Register and to provide guidance on how to fill in the claim forms which “would not entail an evaluation or an assessment of the loss or damage claimed.”

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