On 16 March 2022, Al-Haq on behalf of partner organizations, delivered an oral statement under the general debate on item 3 on the promotion and protection of all human rights, civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to development, as part of its engagement with the Human Rights Council 49th session. The general debate followed the presentation of the intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights’ report on its seventh session, of which Al-Haq took part in October 2021. The statement addressed the importance of grounding the regulation of transnational corporations and business enterprises in human rights standards, including through the utilization of effective accountability measures against violators from the private sector. In the context of colonization, prolonged occupation and apartheid imposed on the Palestinian people as a whole, the regulation of business enterprises involved in the expansion of illegal Israeli settlements and the appropriation of natural resources is crucial. The statement called for the annual and comprehensive update of the UN database of businesses engaged in Israel’s settlement enterprise, and for ending trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.
The oral statement read as follows:
49th Regular Session of the UN Human Rights Council
General Debate under Item 3
Joint Oral Intervention[i]
Al-Haq, Law in the Service of Man
NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council
Date: 15 March 2022
Transnational Corporations and Human Rights - End Trade with Israel’s Illegal Settlement Enterprise in the Occupied Palestinian Territory
Imperative to the advancement of human rights are effective accountability mechanisms that strengthen international law within the private sector. The increasing impact of transnational corporations and business enterprises in the promotion, and realization of human rights, as well as their contributive role in the furtherance of colonization, evidence the necessity that their actions and regulations are done in compliance with international law, concurrently with the restoration of authority and access to remedy for victims of occupation, colonization, and apartheid.
This is evident within the context of the ongoing occupation of Palestine, in which the utilization of transnational corporations and business enterprises to expand illegal Israeli settlements and appropriate natural resources perpetuates the denial of the Palestinian people from realizing their right to self-determination, including permanent sovereignty over natural resources.
Accordingly, the regulation of transnational corporations must be rooted in human rights. The effectiveness of this legally binding instrument will depend on annual and comprehensive updates to the UN database, which assures transparency of business enterprises that are involved in and profit from prolonged occupation and provide a powerful mechanism for community involvement in regulating the private sector. We call for ending trade with Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory.
In our pursuit of greater compliance with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, let us remember that there can be no liberation from corporate capture or solution to human rights violations committed by the private sector in a society whose foundational model of relationships continues to be one of domination.
[i] Joining organizations: Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies, the Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Habitat International Coalition, Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association, Human Rights and Democracy Participation Center "SHAMS", Palestinian Centre for Human Rights, Bisan Center for Research and Development, Al Mezan Centre for Human Rights, Women's Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling.