Establishing an IPS/UNCCP Information System
Between 1952 and 1964, the United Nations Conciliation Commission for Palestine (UNCCP) kept records identifying, locating and valuating properties owned by Palestinian refugees in what had become Israeli territory in 1948. Copies of the records, stored by UNCCP on microfilm, were made available to the Institute for Palestine Studies (IPS) in 1997. With a grant from IDRC and the Ford Foundation, these were digitized and stored in a computerized database with geographical information system (GIS) functionality. This allowed users to retrieve data according to the owner's name, number or location of property. The database, which was completed in the year 2000, suffers from a number of flaws and gaps, however. This project will see the database upgraded according to the latest technological standards. Researchers will also begin developing a valuation methodology for the properties and explore potential links with other databases with information on Palestinian property. The upgraded database will provide the basis for developing a sound valuation methodology for the lost properties, thus contributing to the process of compensating Palestinian refugees, a key component of any solution to the refugee problem. The database will also be of use to negotiators, policymakers, researchers and claims managers. The project will be managed by the Beirut-based IPS and carried out under the guidance of an advisory committee made up of experts in databases and claims mechanisms. In June 2009, IDRC funded an expert meeting to help develop a proposal for upgrading the IPS property database (105600). The experts proposed by IDRC for participation in that meeting are included in the advisory committee.