The Russell Tribunal on Palestine
CRH plc investigated for complicity with breaches of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law by Israel
CRH plc were among several European and Israeli companies investigated for complicity with breaches of International Law by Israel at the second session of Russell Tribunal on Palestine on November 20 and 21st 2010 in the Law Society, London. The jury’s verdict was presented at a press conference on 22 November at the Amnesty International Human Rights Action Centre.
Back ground to the Russell Tribunal
The Russell Tribunal is an international citizen based Tribunal of conscience created in response to the demands of civil society. The first Tribunal was established by the English philosopher Bertrand Russell in 1967 to investigate war crimes in Vietnam and has been followed by tribunals on Central Americain 1974 andIraq in 2004.
The Russell Tribunal on Palestine
In March 2010 the first session of the RToP was held in Barcelona and investigated Europe’s complicity with Israel’s violations of International Humanitarian laws and Human Rights law in the ongoing occupation ofPalestine. The tribunal found the European Union guilty of complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people and called for the suspension of the EU-Israel preferential trade agreement and endorsed the 2005 call from Palestinian civil society for Boycott, Divestment and Sanction against Israel until it ceases the human rights abuses of the Palestinian people.
The second session held in London in November 2010 titled ‘Corporate Complicity in Israel’s violations of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Law’ sought to
a) establish the responsibilities and obligations of corporations under international law b) assess the conduct of a series of companies regarding different aspects of Israel’s violations of the rights of the Palestinian people c) uncover the system that allows corporations to act in such unlawful ways and show in what way countries and international organizations could be held accountable.
Corporations and multinational enterprises in the dock at RToP
In the second session corporations investigated included CRH plc whose Israeli subsidiary’s cement is used to build the illegal settlements, separation wall and physical infrastructure of occupation. Other companies investigated included Dexia Bank, Caterpillar, Veolia, Ahava, G4S , Elbit Systems.
The IPSC divestment officer, John Dorman, presented the case against CRH (see video-link below) outling out the illegal activities being carried out by CRH’s subsidary Nesher Cement Enterprises, the impact of these activities on the Palestinian people and the infringements of international laws and norms of these activities. In his conclusion he called on the Irish government to call CRH to account and called on the Tribunal to make findings of guilt in relation to CRHs complicity with Israel’s violations of international laws.
This request and call on the Irish state to hold CRH to account for corporate complicity in Israel action’s was endorsed by the Tribunal in their findings.
In the public statement following tribunal session, the human rights barrister, Michael Mansfield held that corporations such as CRH plc, Veolia, Dexia Bank, Elbit Systems and Caterpillar play a very decisive role in enabling Israel to commit war crimes and crimes against humanity in the occupied territories of Palestine.
The Tribunal noted that these companies are undermining the very integrity and credibility of International Law and the institutions that under pin it.
It included in its findings as to the potential legal liability of the companies for these serious violations noting that civil claims against the companies are possible in countries where they are domiciled and they can be subject to criminal prosecution.
Mairead Corrigan Maguire appealed to ordinary people to stand up for the human rights of the Palestinian people and to support the Palestinian call for Boycott, Divestment and Sanction (BDS) against Israel until such time as it brings an end to the illegal occupation of Palestine.
17 January 2011
In his publishing hit indignez-vous!the 93 year old French Resistance fighter, Stephane Hessel (one of the original drafters of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948)calls on citizens to use their energy to fight indifference and global injustice.
Hessel recently chaired the Russell Tribunal on Palestine in London which investigated corporate complicity withIsrael’s violations of International Law. CRH plc, 25% owner ofIsrael’s sole cement producer, was one of those investigated. The tribunal findings, published last week, concluded that corporations who assist Israel in violations of international law by ‘providing Israel with cement, equipment and vehicles that are used in the construction and maintenance of the (illegal separation) wall…may be liable under civil or criminal law’. Surely this is not the spotlight CRH would choose to be under?
The tribunal jury conclusions echoed Hessel’s call to fight injustice by calling on individuals, groups and organizations to hold complicit corporations to account and if they continue to assist in violations of international law to divest from the company. In this auspicious year, the 50th birthday of Amnesty International, CRH could seize the initiative itself by divesting fromIsrael. As Hessel’s notes ‘The worst of all attitudes is indifference’.