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Monday, June 19, 2017

Legal expert Eugene Kontorovich spoke at the UNHRC today about the blacklist of companies that work in the "occupied territories"  that the UN is putting together.

NGO Monitor and Kontorovich have put together a booklet showing many companies who are profiting from other occupied territories - companies that the UN doesn't care about: From its introduction:

On March 24, 2016, at its 31st session, the UN General Assembly Human Rights Council (UNHRC) adopted Resolution 31/36, which instructed the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a “database” of business enterprises.1 The database will focus on one particular issue, which an earlier Council resolution claimed raises human rights issues: that “business enterprises have directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements.”2

Such an activity—making blacklists of private organizations—is absolutely unprecedented for the HRC. And the current “research” program is focused on only one context: companies working in areas designated as being under Israeli civil jurisdiction in the West Bank under the Oslo Accords. The General Assembly has allocated $138,700 to cover the costs of this research project. The clear goal of the Council in producing such a list is to create negative reputational consequences for the listed companies, and ultimately to trigger sanctions against targeted companies through subsequent action by the Security Council or national governments.3

If business activity that “facilitates” or “profits” from settlement activity raises human rights issues, then the Commission’s current research program is unjustifiably narrow in its scope, and fails to capture the full context and magnitude of business activities that support settlement enterprises in occupied territories. The narrow focus of the report’s mandate undermines both the legal and practical value of the resulting database. It is also likely to produce consequences both unexpected and undesired by the Council and member states.

Every situation of prolonged belligerent occupation in the world involved widespread “settlement” activity—a non-technical term to refer generally to the migration of civilians from the occupying power into the territory.4 In all of these occupations, business enterprises, including third-country firms, play a major economic role. Many of these settlement enterprises have resulted in the large-scale ethnic cleansing or displacement of the occupied population or subjected it to widespread and massive human rights violations that have been amply documented.

This report is designed to put the HRC’s “database” project in a global perspective. It examines business activity in support of settlement enterprises in occupied territories around the world. This study reveals that such business is ubiquitous and involves some of the world’s largest industrial, financial services, transport, and other major publicly traded companies. Such companies include Siemens, Crédit Agricole, BNP Paribas, Santander, Vodafone, Renault, Veolia, Trelleborg, Wärtsilä, and Turkish Airlines, to take just a few examples.

...As this report shows, the kind of business activity on which the Council is composing a
“database” on the grounds that it violates human rights, is ubiquitous in occupied territories
around the world. Yet in all of the occupation/settlements contexts examined in this study,
the Council has never mentioned the issue of foreign business activity in its detailed reports
on the human rights situations in these territories. If such activity—which in all these cases
contributes to the occupying power’s ongoing control of the territory and dispossession of the
occupied people—is truly a human rights issue, these massive omissions suggest a complete
disregard by the Council for the human rights of people around the world. In such a case, the
Council is not even worthy of its name.
On the other hand, such omission would be justifiable if, as argued here, otherwise legitimate
business activity does not become illegal when it supports a contested political or territorial
situation. In such a case, it would only be the Council’s inquiry into Israel that is unjustified and illegitimate. Instead, it would be just the most egregious example of the Council’s “practice of wrongly singling out Israel for criticism,” which US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley has recently demanded must end.13 Such a practice is, as Ambassador Haley says, “seriously wrong,” and deprives the resulting database of any legitimacy.
In other words, the UNHRC is filled with hypocrites for pretending that companies in occupied territories are violators of human rights when they only single out one alleged occupation and give everyone else a pass.

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