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UN contracts with G4S extend the oppression of the Palestinians

UN hypocrisy not only dictates the invalidation of Palestinian history and memory through futile resolutions and recommendations; more significantly, it also undermines Palestinian rights by contracting the G4S Company to provide the international organisation with security services. Palestinian NGO Addameer has recently launched a campaign urging UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon to abandon the contracts with G4S, pointing out the role played by the company in Israeli prisons.

Indeed, G4S has been providing Israel with surveillance systems for its prisons and security technology to monitor military checkpoints across the occupied West Bank and Jerusalem, as well as the Apartheid Wall built on Palestinian territory. Within the context of the Jerusalem Intifada, Palestinians resisting Israeli state and settler terrorism in the West Bank are transferred to prisons inside Israel where G4S technology is used, thus rendering the company complicit in Israel’s violations of international law. While activist pressure has resulted in further awareness, G4S is not averse to relying upon the jargon of contractual obligations to justify its links to Israel’s colonial violence.

The UN, on the other hand, has dreamed up a document called “UN Supplier Code of Conduct” which departs from the glorification of its charter, going on to construct its own version of impunity by placing prime responsibility to abide by the law upon the companies which supply services to the organisation. The United Nations Charter, the document claims, serves “as overarching values to which suppliers of goods and services to the UN are expected to adhere.” Furthermore, the document utilises the International Labour Conventions and Recommendations, which stipulate clearly that, “The UN expects its suppliers to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights and to ensure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses.”

Also read: Labour Party to end G4S contract over human rights concern

Rather than assume responsibility for due diligence checks and thus self-accountability, the UN has produced a document that is littered with expectations placed upon the supplier. Hence, the organisation has constructed another niche through which it can dictate moral hyperbole, while participating willingly in the erosion of human rights, under the auspices of its self-serving propaganda. The 2013 Annual Statistical Report on United Nations Procurement details references to contracts with G4S in several countries where affiliated organisations such as UNHCR, UNESCO and UNICEF are operating.

Last November, the UNHCR representative in Jordan stated that the organisation has terminated its contracts with G4S, insisting that a different security company had been contracted.

Unscrupulous conduct on behalf of the UN needs to be incorporated into the mainstream, given its penchant for promoting several forms of violence, including the approval of foreign intervention, under the guise of humanitarian concerns. In the case of Palestine, UN hypocrisy is unprecedented. The primacy of commemorative gestures over concrete action has consolidated the organisation’s role in creating the colonial monstrosity called Israel that has ravaged Palestinian territory. It has repudiated the clause that confers upon the colonised population the legitimate right to resist against oppression through all available means, including armed resistance, by constantly reiterating Israel’s fabricated “right to self-defence”.

The reason for the UN’s double standards is the manipulation of knowledge and lack of scrutiny with regard to the organisation’s participation in human rights violations. It is well known that G4S is complicit in crimes committed by Israel against Palestinians. However, given that there is no authority which could hold the UN accountable for its duplicitous role, it is likely that the security company will continue to benefit from contracts with both Israel and its international patron.

The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Middle East Monitor.

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