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Group calls for action to release UN database of businesses engaged in Israel’s settlements

The Ramallah-based Al-Haq human rights organization today called on the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to release the long-overdue database of businesses engaged in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise.

On 24 March 2016, said Al-Haq in a Call for Action press release, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted resolution 31/36 requesting OHCHR to “produce a database of all business enterprises” that “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements” in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, in consultation with the Working Group on Business and Human Rights. The resolution further specified that the data is to be transmitted to the HRC at its 34th session, and the UN database to be updated annually.

“After three years since the adoption of resolution 31/36 and more than two years of its initial scheduled release at the 34thHRC session, the OHCHR is yet to release the UN database,” said Al-Haq. “The repeated, open-ended and unexplained delays in releasing the UN database make us question whether the High Commissioner will fulfil her mandate at all. At this point, the release of the UN database has become a matter of ensuring the impartiality and credibility of the High Commissioner, the OHCHR, and the HRC. If the High Commissioner is unable to implement and fulfil an entrusted mandate, then an explanation must be provided to the HRC.”

Al-Haq said that the release and annual update of the UN database are significant for several reasons, including:

“The UN database will identify businesses that violate international humanitarian and human rights law as a result of their operations and relationships with illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank. Such transparency is necessary for States, businesses and the public, and could assist in ensuring that companies are not complicit or involved in gross human rights violations.

“The UN database will highlight the adverse impacts of Israeli settlements and associated businesses on the rights of Palestinians, notably the right to self-determination and permanent sovereignty over natural resources, including land and water.

“The UN database will serve as a universal tool of transparency for business enterprises that are involved in and profiting from political instability, armed conflict and the exploitation of vulnerable communities and populations around the world.”

Al-Haq called on civil society organizations, human rights defenders, social movements, networks and groups from around the world to join its call for the release of the UN database. “To this date, more than 100 Palestinian, regional and international human rights organizations and civil society have joined our repeated calls to the UN High Commissioner and Member States,” it said.

It urged members to advocate for the release of the UN database before their national parliaments and parliamentarians, engage with their national Ministry of Foreign Affairs on the UN database, send a letter to the UN High Commissioner calling for the release and annual update of the UN database, and issue a public statement calling on the High Commissioner’s Office to release the UN database.

It also urged utilizing local, regional media and social media to raise awareness about the UN database.

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