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  • Print publication year: 2011
  • Online publication date: May 2011

4 - HLP Restitution Rights

Summary

[T]he basic principle that wrongfully expropriated property should be restituted (or compensation paid) applies to them all, and their implementation of this principle is a measure of the extent to which they have successfully adopted democratic institutions, the rule of law with respect to property rights, and market economy practices. As these governments seek to join western economic and political organizations, and to integrate their economies more closely with ours, we do expect them to adopt the highest international standards in their treatment of property.…

[R]efugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible.

A principled argument in favour of restitution is that no matter how long ago the injustice occurred, its legitimisation only encourages other wrongdoings.

Throughout history, millions upon millions of people have been forced by circumstances beyond their control to flee their homes, lands, and properties. In previous centuries, such displacement and loss of one's habitual residence was often accepted as a tragic but nonetheless inevitable consequence of warfare, military aggression, conquest, arbitrary confiscation of lands, and related gross and systematic violations of human rights.

Additional Resources
,Amnesty International (1997) Who's Living in My House? Obstacles to the Safe Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced People, Report No. EUR/ID, Amnesty International Publications.
Bagshaw, Simon (2003) “Property Restitution for Internally Displaced Persons: Developments in the Normative Framework,” in Leckie, Scott (ed.), Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons, New York: Transnational Publishers.
Barkan, Elizar (2000) The Guilt of Nations: History and Injustices, New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
,COHRE (2006) The Pinheiro Principles – United Nations Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons, COHRE.
Das, Hans (2004) “Restoring Property Rights in the Aftermath of WarInternational and Comparative Law Quarterly 53: 429–444.
,International Center for Transitional Justice (2007) The Contemporary Right to Property Restitution in the Context of Transitional Justice, ICTJ.
Jackson-Preece, J. (1998) “Ethnic Cleansing as an Instrument of National-State Creation: Changing State Practices and Evolving Legal NormsHuman Rights Quarterly 20, no. 4: 824.
Leckie, Scott (ed.) (2007) Housing, Land and Property Restitution Rights for Refugees and Displaced Persons: Laws, Cases and Materials, Cambridge University Press.
Leckie, Scott (2003) Returning Home: Housing and Property Restitution Rights of Refugees and Displaced Persons, New York: Transnational Publishers.
Leckie, Scott (2000) “Housing and Property Issues for Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons in the Context of Return: Key Considerations for UNHCR Policy and PracticeRefugee Survey Quarterly 19, no. 3: 5.
,Norwegian Refugee Council (2004) ICLA Handbook, Return Facilitation, Information, Counselling and Legal Assistance, NRC.
Pinheiro, Paulo Sergio (2005) “Housing and Property Restitution in the Context of the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” in Final Report of the Special Rapporteur on Housing and Property Restitution in the Context of the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/17 and UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2005/17/Add.1.
Pinheiro, Paulo Sergio (2004) “Housing and Property Restitution in the Context of the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” in Progress Report of the Special Rapportuer, Paulo Sergio Pinheiro. Addendum. Commentary on the Draft Principles on Housing and Property Restitution for Refugees and Displaced Persons, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2004/22/Add.1.
Pinheiro, Paulo Sergio (2003) “Housing and Property Restitution in the Context of the Return of Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons” in Preliminary Report of the Special Rapporteur Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, submitted in accordance with the Sub-Commission Resolution 2002/7, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2003/11.
Pinheiro, Paulo Sergio (2002) “The Return of Refugees' or Displaced Persons' Property,” Working paper submitted by Mr. Paulo Sergio Pinheiro pursuant to Sub-Commission decision 2001/122, UN Doc. E/CN.4/Sub.2/2002/17.
Williams, Rhodri C. (2007) “The Contemporary Right to Property Restitution in the Context of Transitional Justice,” Occasional Paper Series, International Center for Transitional Justice.
Zieck, M. (1997) UNHCR and Voluntary Repatriation of Refugees: A Legal Analysis, The Hague: Martinus Nijhoff Publishers.
Zweig, R.W. (1993) “Restitution of Property and Refugee Rehabilitation: Two Case StudiesJournal of Refugee Studies 6, no. ¼: 56–64.