The Palestinian Genocide: brought to you by corporations.
We are witnessing a genocide unravel live on our mobile devices, Palestinians are being wiped out from their own homeland, with children making up 53% of the population in Palestine. The scale of suffering is truly unfathomable. Your first instinct might be to quickly look away, to swipe to the next post, you might wonder, “but what can I do?”, you might even feel helpless. Stop. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that your actions do not matter. Now more than ever, every single voice, action, and cent, matters. Where you spend your money matters. What you say matters. What you do matters. A billion small steps will create an unstoppable movement.
In situations like these, corporations have a key role to play. Big money talks, and if they provide their services to Israel; they inadvertently fund, support, and enable its unlawful operations. Where you spend your money is where your voice lies. To hold corporations accountable in the role they have to play, we have to call for a strong internationally recognized and ratified UN Binding Treaty that regulates corporations with respect to human rights and the environment. One that can be used to prosecute corporations for their actions.
Say NO to Corporate Exploitation!
Till date there is no International Treaty on Business and Human Rights, allowing corporations to exploit people and the planet, in the name of profit. In 2011, the UN Human Rights Council adopted the UNGPs, a voluntary set of guidelines intended to ensure businesses respect human rights. However, these guidelines are not enough as they lack enforceability. Additionally, relying solely on national action plans on business and human rights, and weak national legal frameworks fall short in a globalized world, especially when large multinational companies often operate beyond legal jurisdiction.
Companies continue to take advantage of the lack of mandatory rules to capture supply chains or influence policy in the global south, harming the livelihoods of marginalized communities. As their operations often go unchecked, they simultaneously heavily contribute to climate change.
For the past years, Manushya Foundation, as a member of ESCR-Net and the #Feminists4BindingTreaty, has been relentlessly lobbying for a Legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights, to arm governments and communities with stronger tools to protect people and our planet from corporate greed.
9th Year of Negotiations around the Binding Treaty
From October 23rd to 27th, the 9th session of the UN open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises concerning human rights (IGWG) convened in Geneva to deliberate on a legally binding treaty. Manushya Foundation has consistently advocated for the implementation of such a treaty. This year is no exception, and given the backdrop of the Palestinian Genocide, this treaty is needed more than ever. During the negotiations, calls from various States and the European Union emphasized the inclusion of specific provisions safeguarding the environment, as well as the incorporation of a robust framework addressing the rights of children, gender, indigenous peoples, and marginalized groups.
Currently corporations can finance and profit off unlawful occupation and war crimes through a variety of business operations as they are not required to comply with human right standards or carry out due diligence to ensure their supply chains and operations are in compliance with human rights. There are no international laws to keep them in check, effectively allowing businesses to profit off human rights violations. An international binding instrument is needed to ensure human rights are respected world-wide, and at every step of the way. Human rights cannot continue to be an after-thought. If all life is truly valued equally, human rights must be the basis of each sector, with a renewed sense of commitment to protect each individual’s right.
Funding a Genocide 101
Corporations are complicit in genocide when they facilitate acts of war, whether through arms trade, oil and gas production, or by supplying goods and services required to carry out an operation, like we are witnessing in Gaza. This begs the question “Who stands to benefit most from oppression? Violence? Or War?” Often the answer is transnational corporations and western imperialist countries. Their harmful operations, like we are witnessing in Palestine, is proof of their post-colonial mindset. America, alongside other global powers, continue to abuse their influence to dominate and manipulate global politics, and markets, to line their own pockets.
How can a legally Binding Treaty on Business and Human Rights help prevent and monitor corporate complicity in acts of war and hold corporations accountable for these crimes? The Binding Treaty must be firm on issues related to corporate legal liability, accountability, transparency, and the extraterritorial obligations of States if it strives to sufficiently address corporate human rights violations and abuses. The language used must be clear and precise in the protection of human rights, allowing affected communities to hold corporations accountable.
To achieve an International Binding Treaty that protects and respects every individual’s human rights, the process must heavily include the most marginalized voices of women and other communities from the global south. Without their input, we fear falling into the same neocolonial trappings that suit western imperialist interests.
During the 9th session, an impactful intervention was given by Wesam Ahmad on behalf of Al Haq and ESCR-Net. He calls on the international community to recognize the role corporations are playing in Gaza’s destruction, while underlining how a UN Binding Treaty can hold corporations accountable:
“It is a stark reminder that the horrors we witness today have deep-rooted connections to corporate interests that know no borders and respect no rights. The devastation in Gaza is not isolated; it is a symptom of a larger problem—a system where transnational corporations stand to benefit from oppression, killings, and destruction in the support of imperial ambitions.”
Watch the full intervention here.
What can you do?
▶️Keep yourself informed about the situation, follow reporting from journalists on the ground, talk about it around you and raise awareness: we cannot shy away from the truth!
▶️ Call for an immediate ceasefire and the recovery of humanitarian aid.
▶️ Participate in targeted boycott movements in your own country and boycott multinational enterprises complicit in war crimes. Check here.
▶️Reach out to your representatives and call for STRONG and CONCRETE mHREDD legislation.
#WeAreManushyan ♾ Equal Human Beings
#CeasefireNow #StopGenocide #Gaza #Palestine #FreePalestine #UNBindingTreaty #BindingTreaty #StopCorporateCapture #StopCorporateImpunity #PlanetOverProfit #HumanRights #BusinessAndHumanRights #CorporateAccountability #WeAreManushyan #EqualHumanBeings
ESCR-Net, ESCR-Net Calls for Stronger Provisions to Hold Corporations Accountable, (13 April 2023), available at: https://www.escr-net.org/news/2023/escr-net-calls-stronger-provisions-hold-corporations-accountable
ESCR-Net, Human Rights and Business Treaty, available at: https://www.escr-net.org/corporateaccountability/hrbusinesstreaty
Geneva Solutions, As Countries wage war, corporations profit - time for robust international teart, (19 October 2023), available at: https://genevasolutions.news/global-news/as-countries-wage-war-corporations-profit-time-for-robust-international-treaty
ESCR-Net and Al-Haq, ESCR-Net Intervention at the 9th session of the open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights, (24 October 2023), available at: https://www.escr-net.org/sites/default/files/wesam-ahmed-generalstatement.pdf
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Event Page, UN Intergovernmental Working Group elaborating a legally binding instrument on business & human rights, (23 October 2023), available at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/latest-news/9th-session-oct-2023/
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Reflections on a week of negotiations on a legally binding treaty on business & human rights, (1 November 2023), available at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/blog/reflections-on-a-week-of-negotiations-on-a-legally-binding-treaty-on-business-human-rights/
Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC), #TheyOppressWeBDS! 5 solidarity actions to help #EndIsraeliApartheid, (24 August 2023), available at: https://bdsmovement.net/news/TheyOppressWeBDS-5-solidarity-actions-help-EndIsraeliApartheid
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Five reasons the Binding Treaty needs to be feminist, (20 October 2023), available at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/blog/five-reasons-the-binding-treaty-needs-to-be-feminist/
Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Reclaiming states’ economic sovereignty: the crux of the new treaty on business and human rights, (24 October 2023), available at: https://www.business-humanrights.org/en/blog/reclaiming-states-economic-sovereignty-the-crux-of-the-new-treaty-on-business-and-human-rights/
While you’re here, check out our previous advocacy and campaigns on Corporate Accountability and Business & Human Rights!
Why do we fight for real #Corporate Accountability?, 18 January 2023
Thailand’s NAP-BHR: What is a NAP-BHR & Why We Don’t Want It?, 7 October 2022
#StopSLAPP: Women Human Rights Defenders push back against SLAPP charges!, 29 September 2022