Practice Relating to Rule 133. Property Rights of Displaced Persons

Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons annexed to the Dayton Accords
Article XI of the 1995 Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons annexed to the Dayton Accords established a Commission for Displaced Persons and Refugees which would “receive and decide any claim for real property in Bosnia and Herzegovina”. Article XII, paragraph 3, of the Agreement provided:
In determining the lawful owner of any property, the Commission shall not recognize as valid any illegal property transaction, including any transfer that was made under duress, in exchange for exit permission or documents, or that was otherwise in connection with ethnic cleansing. 
General Framework Agreement for Peace in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Annex 7, Agreement on Refugees and Displaced Persons, signed by the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Republika Srpska, Dayton, 22 November 1995, Articles XI and XII, third para.
Recommendation on the Tragic Situation of Civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Paragraph 4(c) of the 1992 Recommendation on the Tragic Situation of Civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina provided that each party to the conflict guaranteed to those who left temporarily the territory it controlled that “any document, including a document renouncing or transferring property rights, assets or claims signed by a person who is about to leave temporarily has no legal validity and does not affect in any way that person’s rights or obligations”. 
Recommendation on the Tragic Situation of Civilians in Bosnia and Herzegovina, adopted at the invitation of the International Committee of the Red Cross and signed by Representatives of Mr. Alija Izetbegović (President of the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina and President of the Party of Democratic Action), Representative of Mr. Radovan Karadžić (President of the Serbian Democratic Party), and Representative of Mr. Mate Boban (President of the Croatian Democratic Community), Geneva, 1 October 1992, § 4(c).
Joint Declaration by the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia (September 1992)
According to paragraph 6 of the Joint Declaration by the Presidents of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and Croatia (September 1992), “all statements or commitments made under duress, particularly relating to land and property, are wholly null and void”. 
Joint Declaration by President Dobrica Cosić of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia and President Franjo Tudjman of the Republic of Croatia, Geneva, 30 September 1992, annexed to Report of the UN Secretary-General on the International Conference on the Former Yugoslavia, UN Doc. S/24795, 11 November 1992, Annex II, § 6.
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Austria
In 1992, during a debate in the UN Security Council on Bosnia and Herzegovina, Austria emphasized that where persons were forced to sign statements renouncing their property rights, there could be no doubt that such documents were null and void. 
Austria, Statement before the UN Security Council, UN Doc. S/PV.3106, 13 August 1992, p. 23.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1992 in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council endorsed “the principles agreed by the Presidents of Croatia and the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) on 30 September 1992 that all statements or commitments made under duress, particularly those relating to land and property, are wholly null and void”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 779, 6 October 1992, § 5, voting record: 15-0-0.
These principles were reaffirmed in a resolution adopted in 1993. 
UN Security Council, Res. 820 A, 17 April 1993, § 7, voting record: 13-0-2.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1994 in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council reaffirmed “its support for the established principles that all declarations and actions made under duress, particularly those regarding land and ownership, are null and void, and that all displaced persons should be enabled to return in peace to their former homes”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 941, 23 September 1994, § 3, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN Security Council
In a resolution adopted in 1994 in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the UN Security Council reaffirmed “its support for the established principle that all statements or commitments made under duress, particularly those regarding land and ownership, are null and void”. 
UN Security Council, Res. 947, 30 September 1994, § 8, voting record: 15-0-0.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1993 in the context of the conflict in the former Yugoslavia, the UN General Assembly considered “invalid all acts made under duress affecting ownership of property and other related questions”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 48/153, 20 December 1993, § 13, adopted without a vote.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1994 on the former Yugoslavia, the UN General Assembly:
Reaffirms that the consequences of ethnic cleansing shall not be accepted by the international community and that those who have seized land and other property by ethnic cleansing and by the use of force must relinquish those lands, in conformity with norms of international law. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 49/10, 3 November 1994, § 8, voting record: 97-0-61-26.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1994 on the former Yugoslavia, the UN General Assembly:
Expresses its complete support for the victims of those violations, reaffirms the right of all persons to return to their homes in safety and dignity, considers invalid all acts made under duress affecting ownership of property and other related questions, recognizes the right of victims of ethnic cleansing to receive just reparation for their losses, and urges all parties to fulfil their agreements to this end. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 49/196, 23 December 1994, § 13, voting record: 150-0-14-21.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 1995 on the situation of human rights in the Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Republic of Croatia and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro), the UN General Assembly, in relation to the property of refugees and displaced persons, considered “null any commitment made under duress”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 50/193, 22 December 1995, § 12, voting record: 144-1-20-20.
UN General Assembly
In a resolution adopted in 2000 on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina, the UN General Assembly reaffirmed “its support for the principle that all statements and commitments made under duress, particularly those regarding land and property, are wholly null and void”. 
UN General Assembly, Res. 55/24, 14 November 2000, § 19, adopted without a vote.
UN Commission on Human Rights
In several resolutions adopted between 1992 and 1995, the UN Commission on Human Rights emphasized the invalidity of acts made under duress in relation to the forcible transfer of the property rights of displaced persons in the former Yugoslavia. 
UN Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1992/S-2/1, 1 December 1992, § 4, voting record: 45-1-1; Res. 1994/72, 9 March 1994, § 8, adopted without a vote; Res. 1994/75, 9 March 1994, § 5, voting record: 41-1-10; Res. 1995/89, 8 March 1995, § 8, voting record: 44-0-7.
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights
In resolutions adopted in 1993 and 1995, the UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights recommended that the UN and the governments concerned take measures to enable the properties of returning displaced persons in the former Yugoslavia to be restored to them, any documents signed by them under duress being rejected. 
UN Sub-Commission on Human Rights, Res. 1993/17, 20 August 1993, § 7; Res. 1995/8, 18 August 1995, § 5.
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Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
In a General Recommendation adopted in 1996, CERD emphasized that “any commitments or statements relating to [the] property [of returning displaced persons] made under duress are null and void”. 
CERD, General Recommendation XXII (Article 5 of the Convention and refugees and displaced persons), 1996, § 2.
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