Renowned international NGOS have urged a senior United Nations official to publish a database of companies complicit in illegal Israeli settlements, charging that the continued delay constitutes a failure to fulfil the office's mandate.
In a joint statement issued yesterday, groups including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International expressed "serious concern and disappointment" that the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights failed to release the database during the Human Rights Council's 42nd session.
The establishment of the database was mandated by the UN Human Rights Council in 2016, with the original intended deadline for the release of the data in March 2017.
According to the signatories – who also include Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations, and the Global Legal Action Network (GLAN) – the "repeated, open-ended, and unexplained delays have no precedent in the handling of previous mandates by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR)".
The NGOs believe that the failure to publish the database, "is of deep concern, particularly in light of consistent reports of political interference by some states in the implementation of this resolution."
Moreover, the statement continued, "the High Commissioner has not provided any substantive reasons or explanations consistent with the independence of her Office for the extended delay in the fulfilment of the mandate entrusted to her."
The human rights groups stressed the need to fulfil the mandate in light of Israel having "escalated its construction of illegal settlements in the West Bank", as well as related developments such as the recent "ex-post facto [approval of] the outpost settlement of Mevo'ot Yericho near Jericho".
"Business activity in or with settlements contributes in many ways to the growth and development of these settlements and to serious human rights abuses," the NGOs stated.
"OHCHR's repeated delays in releasing the Database and transmitting the data promote impunity and enable further entrenchment and expansion of illegal settlements."