Letter dated 9 September 2014 from the Secretary-General addressed to the President of the General Assembly
In accordance with the provision of paragraph 6 (h) of General Assembly resolution ES-10/17, adopted 15 December 2006, I have the honour to transmit herewith a progress report, dated 20 June 2014, from the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (see annex).
I would be grateful if you would bring the present letter and its annex to the attention of the members of the General Assembly.
(Signed) BAN Ki-moon
Letter dated 20 June 2014 from the members of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction
of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory addressed to the Secretary-General
We have the honour to provide the progress report of the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory for transmission to the General Assembly in accordance with paragraph 6 (h) of Assembly resolution ES-10/17 (see annex).
We request that the progress report be issued as a document of the General Assembly. Our 2009, 2010, 2011 2012 and 2013 progress reports were issued as documents A/ES-10/455, A/ES-10/498, A/ES-10/522, A/ES/10/598 and A/ES-10/599 respectively.
(Signed) Ronald Bettauer
(Signed) Harumi Hori
(Signed) Matti Pellonpää
Progress report from the Board of the United Nations Register of Damage
Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
1. The Board of the United Nations Register of Damage Caused by the Construction of the Wall in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (the Register of Damage) provides this progress report, in accordance with paragraph 6 (h) of General Assembly resolution ES-10/17, covering the period from 15 June 2013 to 20 June 2014. Our 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 progress reports were contained in documents A/ES-10/455 (2009), A/ES-10/498 (2010), A/ES-10/522 (2011), A/ES-10/598 (2012) and A/ES-10/599 (2013), respectively. Board progress reports, as well as other basic documents pertinent to the work of the Register of Damage, are posted on the Register's website, www.unrod.org.
2. During the reporting period, the Register of Damage continued to collect, process and consider claim forms for inclusion in the Register in accordance with its Rules and Regulations Governing Registration of Claims.
3. Since its launch in 2008, the community outreach campaign has covered 198 communities with a population of approximately 630,000 in the governorates of Jenin, Tubas, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem, as well as in some communities around East Jerusalem. Thousands of printed posters and leaflets were distributed to inform potential claimants of the requirements for completing a claim for registration of damage. In addition, over a hundred meetings were held during the reporting period by the Register of Damage claim intakers with governors, mayors, local councils and potential claimants in the areas covered by the outreach campaign. The Register of Damage has organized specialized training for 25 mayors from the Hebron and Bethlehem governorates on legal and organizational aspects of claim intake in their communities.
4. By 20 June 2014, 42,555 claim forms for registration of damage and over 600,000 of supporting documents had been collected and delivered to the Office of the Register of Damage in Vienna. Claim intake activities have been completed in six out of nine affected governorates — Tubas, Jenin, Tulkarem, Qalqiliya, Salfit, Hebron — are nearly completed in Ramallah and ongoing in Bethlehem.
5. As of 20 June 2014, the Board decided to include most or all of the losses set out in 12,515 claim forms and excluded 659 claim forms where none of the losses met the eligibility criteria, bringing the total number of decided claims to 13,174.
6. Despite the diligent and dedicated work of the secretariat, there is a considerable gap between the number of claim forms collected and processed by the Vienna Office of the Register of Damage. This gap is likely to grow, given the size of the staff of the Vienna Office and the complexity of the Board's task of reviewing claims.
7. Since its previous report, the Board has held three meetings in Vienna to review claim forms that had been translated, processed and individually reviewed by the Office staff. The Board met from 16 to 20 September 2013, from 9 to 13 December 2013 and from 16 to 20 June 2014. At the three meetings, respectively, the Board reviewed and decided to include in the Register most or all of the losses set out in 998 claim forms, 1,825 claim forms and 1,294 claim forms. At its September, December and June meetings, respectively, the Board decided not to include in the Register 41 claim forms, 22 claim forms and 20 claim forms, since none of the losses in the forms met the eligibility criteria in the Register of Damage's Rules and Regulations. At its September 2013 meeting, the Board also decided to remove from the Register losses contained in 7 claim forms because new information showed that the land that was claimed had been sold. The Board also decided to defer action on 14 claim forms at its September 2013 meeting and on 4 claim forms at its June 2014 meeting.
8. The Board cancelled the meeting that had been scheduled for 10-14 March 2014 because the secretariat failed to make travel arrangements for this meeting. The secretariat asserted that the "contracts" of the members of the Board had not by that time been extended by United Nations Headquarters. On 29 May 2014, an electronic copy of a letter dated 23 May 2014 from Mr. Sergey Agadzhanov of the Vienna Office of the United Nations was forwarded to each Board member with a request that we each agree to an appointment under a contract term from 9 April 2014 for a maximum of 35 workdays, lasting until 31 December 2014 and subject to termination without notice. The Board was told by the Register's secretariat that our travel to the June 2014 meeting would be cancelled if we did not sign the appointment letter acceptance form before commencing travel. We each signed. Two of the Board members clarified that their appointment by the United Nations Secretary-General had been announced by United Nations Headquarters in 2007 and 2008, respectively, and indicated their acceptance of the appointments was subject to the provisions of General Assembly resolution ES-10/17 (2007) and, to the extent consistent therewith, to the terms in the letter and the Staff Regulations of the United Nations and Staff Rules. The Register's secretariat described a legal opinion it had obtained concerning the status of members of the Board, but the members of the Board had not been consulted about the opinion and the secretariat did not share the opinion with the Board. It is the Board's view the issue of contract extension does not appropriately arise under General Assembly resolution ES10/17 (2007). Paragraph 5 of resolution ES-10/17 requests the Secretary-General to appoint members of the Board in accordance with the criteria contained in his 17 October 2006 report (A/ES-10/361). Those criteria are in paragraph 8. They provide that the Board is composed of three independent members and stipulate "that members of the Board be selected in a way that ensures the independence, objectivity and impartiality" of the Register. Fundamental features of independence are that members can perform their functions without interference and may not be removed without cause. Neither the resolution nor the report contains a term limit for persons who have been appointed to the Board. The analogous precedent and practice of claims commissions and arbitral tribunals, where the constituent instruments of the body do not contain a term limit for members, is that members cannot be removed without cause. To allow otherwise would undermine the independence, impartiality and objectivity of the institution and would not be consistent with public international law. While upon initially joining the Board each member signed United Nations letters of appointment, for many following years the issue of having to sign such documents did not arise. Even if new letters of appointment serve an administrative purpose, they cannot override the provisions of resolution ES-10/17 and cannot be used as a justification for removal of Board members without specific cause.
9. The claim forms reviewed during the reporting period included 3,570 claims for category A (agriculture) losses, 498 claims for category B (commercial) losses, 36 claim forms for category C (residential) losses and 217 claims for category E (access to services) losses.
10. The Board, in its review of claims, continued to apply the eligibility criteria in accordance with article 11 of the Rules and Regulations Governing Registration of Claims. In view of the limited time available and the large number of claims for losses included in claim forms submitted to the Board for review by the Office staff, the Board continued to employ sampling techniques as provided for in article 12 (3) of the Rules and Regulations. During the three meetings covered by this report, Board members reviewed in detail approximately 8.5 per cent of representative claims for losses included on the claim forms submitted for review. As indicated in the 2012 Board report, the Executive Director of the Register consulted informally a statistician concerning the sampling methodology; he advised that this level of sampling is reliable. Claims that did not meet the eligibility criteria were either excluded from the Register or returned to the claimants in order for them to provide clarification.
11. The Board continued its exploration of difficult issues of local rules, practice and documentation relating to the ownership and inheritance of land in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in order to determine whether the claimant had a prima facie legal interest in the claimant's share. Complex fractional calculations continued to be necessary in cases where there were multiple owners in order to record a claimant's specific share of the losses to be included in the Register. Difficulties caused by the use of different names (e.g., tribal name, family name, great-grandfather's name) for members of the same family and other such apparent inconsistencies often necessitate special vigilance in the verification of the legal interest.
12. Previous Board progress reports identified some of the issues addressed and decisions reached during the previous reporting period. The following are among the issues addressed and decisions reached by the Board during the present reporting period:
13. As before, the Board would like to express its appreciation for the indispensable cooperation extended by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestinian National Committee for the Register of Damage, as well as for the support provided by local Governors, mayors and members of village councils on many practical aspects, without which outreach and claim-intake activities could not be undertaken successfully. As for the Government of Israel, it continues to consider that any claims in relation to damage caused by the construction of the Wall should be addressed through the existing Israeli mechanism. On the practical level, the Executive Director of the Register of Damage continues to maintain constructive contacts with relevant Israeli authorities and, during the reporting period, the Office of the Register of Damage did not experience any problem with access, freedom of movement, security, delivery of needed materials or issuance of required visas.
14. The Board of the Register of Damage notes with satisfaction the good cooperation with United Nations agencies and offices present on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as called upon in paragraph 14 of General Assembly resolution ES-10/17. The Board particularly appreciates the efficient and tangible contribution provided by the United Nations Office for Project Services in the areas of logistics, procurement, human and financial resources, and management in support of the Register of Damage. During the reporting period, the Register of Damage also continued to benefit from cooperation with the United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process and his Office.
15. The outreach and claim-intake activities in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, which are currently conducted by 8 Register of Damage claim intakers, have since their initiation been funded by voluntary contributions from the Governments of Algeria, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brunei Darussalam, Finland, France, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Switzerland and Turkey and the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID). Note may be taken that several Governments as well as OFID have provided donations twice.
16. The Board would like to express its appreciation to these donors for providing funding and political support enabling the implementation of the provision of the General Assembly resolution ES-10/17. Nevertheless, the resources that are currently available will be exhausted by the end of July 2014, thus putting into question the continuation of the claim-intake activity in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
17. The Board commends the diligent and dedicated work of the staff of the Register.
18. The Board of the Register of Damage will continue to provide periodic reports.
Members of the Board of the Register of Damage
Vienna, 20 June 2014
Document Type: Annex, Letter, Report, Status report
Document Sources: General Assembly, General Assembly 10th Emergency Special Session, Register of Damage caused by the construction of the Wall (UNROD), Secretary-General
Subject: Fence, House demolitions, Separation barrier, Wall
Publication Date: 25/09/2014