In 2020, the UN Human Rights Council published a report naming companies involved in activities related to the illegal Israeli settlements in Palestine.
Under resolution 31/36, the Human Rights Council (HRC) requested production of this database of all business enterprises involved in certain specified activities related to the Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, to be updated annually. This database was presented during the 37th session of the HRC, and subsequently made publicly available. HRC resolution 31/36 established the database following the report of the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the Occupied Palestinian Territory, including East Jerusalem.
The fact finding mission concluded:
· The State of Israel has had full control of the settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since 1967 and continues to promote and sustain them through infrastructure and security measures. The mission notes that, despite all pertinent United Nations resolutions declaring that the existence of the settlements is illegal and calling for their cessation, the planning and growth of the settlements continues of existing as well as of new structures;
· The establishment of the settlements in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem is a mesh of construction and infrastructure leading to a creeping annexation that prevents the establishment of a contiguous and viable Palestinian State and undermines the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination;
· The settlements have been established and developed at the expense of violating international human rights laws and international humanitarian law as applicable in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, as recognized notably by the International Court of Justice in its advisory opinion of 9 July 2004;
· The settlements are established for the exclusive benefit of Israeli Jews, and are being maintained and developed through a system of total segregation between the settlers and the rest of the population living in the Occupied Palestinian Territory. This system of segregation is supported and facilitated by a strict military and law enforcement control to the detriment of the rights of the Palestinian population;
· With regard to the settlements, Israel is committing serious breaches of its obligations under the right to self-determination and certain obligations under international humanitarian law, including the obligation not to transfer its population into the Occupied Palestinian Territory;
· The existence of the settlements has had a heavy toll on the rights of the Palestinians. Their rights to freedom of self-determination, non-discrimination, freedom of movement, equality, due process, fair trial, not to be arbitrarily detained, liberty and security of person, freedom of expression, freedom of access to places of worship, education, water, housing, adequate standard of living, property, access to natural resources and effective remedy are being violated consistently and on a daily basis;
· The mission noted that the identities of settlers who are responsible for violence and intimidation are known to the Israeli authorities, yet these acts continue with impunity;
· Gravely concerned at the large number of children who are apprehended or detained, including for minor offences. They are invariably mistreated, denied due process and a fair trial. In violation of international law, they are transferred to detention centres in Israel;
· Children endure harassment and violence, and encounter significant obstacles in attending educational institutions, which limits their right to have access to education;
· Private entities have enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements, either directly or indirectly;
· Women alone in their homes, the Bedouins and other vulnerable groups are easy targets for settler violence, creating a sense of insecurity in Palestinian society in general.
One of the recommendations of the report of the fact finding mission was “Private companies must assess the human rights impact of their activities and take all necessary steps – including by terminating their business interests in the settlements – to ensure that they do not have an adverse impact on the human rights of the Palestinian people, in conformity with international law as well as the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights” which led to the publication of the database.
The international community have obligations to uphold international human rights law, as recommended by the JCFAD report released yesterday.