HIC-HLRN joined representatives of ECCP, US Campaign to End Israel’s Occupation, BDS Brasil, PLAN (Palestine Legal Action Network), Russell Tribunal on Palestine, Perdana Global Peace Foundation, Cités Unies France and local governments, as well as other civil society organizations, gathered in Seville on 2–3 December 2014 in the International Conference of Governments and Civil Society Organizations in Support of Palestinian Rights

The conference was jointly organized by the Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Junta of Andalucia, with the collaboration of the Parliament of Andalucia. Among other issues conference participants focused on boycott and divestment initiatives taken by local governments, breaking the cycle of Israel’s impunity as well as BDS movement and its economic impact.

Joseph Schechla, from Housing and Land Rights Network, Habitat International Coalition, presented the binding obligations of state parties—including local authorities—not to recognize, cooperate with, or render aid or assistance to Israel’s colonization, occupation and population-transfer policies and practices that breach peremptory norms of international law.

He referred to these duties as “self-executing obligations,” requiring only the political will to abide by existing law. This erga omnes principle for states and their constituent bodies, Schechla explained, is distinct from the consumer choice to “boycott.” Rather, it is incumbent upon all levels of government to refrain from transaction with parties engaged in the illegal situation.

The BDS panelist included Anna Baltzer from US Campaign to End Israel’s occupation, Mahmoud Nawaja – general coordinator for Palestinian BDS National Committee, Shir Hever from Alternative Information Center and Rahim Kurwa from Students for Justice in Palestine.

BDS gives us power – we are no more waiting for the decision makers to change the policy – we are forcing the change,” said Anna Baltzer from US Campaign to End Israel’s Occupation.

«One of the reasons why the BDS movement is so successful is that we put our struggle for justice in Palestine in the global context. There are many places in USA where apartheid is growing – the same tear gas used against Palestinians is used in USA against people fighting for their rights « she added.

Shir Hever from Alternative Information Center has reminded that without the BDS movement it wouldn’t be possible for the EU to publish their guidelines on Israel’s participation in EU programmes and work on further measures against Israel.

Mahmoud Nawajaa – general coordinator for the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC) announced that the Brazilian state of Rio Grande do Sul has cancelled a major collaboration deal with Israeli military company Elbit Systems in the wake of protests over the firm’s role in oppression of Palestinians.

Conference participants has issued an « Olive declaration » endorsed by the representatives of Seville city and local governments, civil society organizations and Andalusian Fund of Municipalities for International Solidarity (FAMSI), the UN Committee on the Exercise of the Inalienable Rights of the Palestinian People (CEIRPP), United Cities and Local Governments (UCLG) and the Junta of Andalusia, calling for :

  • the European Union and its Member States to fulfill their obligations under international law, as stated in the 2004 Advisory Opinion of the International Court of Justice on the Wall, not to help to maintain nor to render aid or assistance to the illegal situation coming from the breach of international law, and to play a greater role in ensuring accountability and to take concrete steps to implement the human rights provisions of its association agreements;
  • all Member States of United Nations to live up to the Charter principles by ending their political and economic support for Israel’s violations of international law and holding it juridically accountable for its crimes through their own and international mechanisms;
  • all layers of the international community, including local governments and civil society to gather support and exert pressure to end the siege of the Gaza Strip, and demanding the end of the abusive illegal use of administrative detention and freedom to all Palestinian political prisoners, supporting, among others, the international campaign “Free Marwan Barghouthi and all Palestinian prisoners”
  • local governments to develop and reinforce relations between them and Palestinian municipalities trough educational, economic, social, political, cultural, youth, media and expert exchanges, in a sustainable way, and the signing of more twinning agreements; focusing on Area C and Jerusalem;
  • international, European and national institutions to reinforce the Diplomacy of the Cities and eliminate the obstacles that complicate the development of Decentralized Cooperation;
  • Local governments to commit to responsible investment by not contracting with parties and not twinning with cities that support or benefit from occupation or violate related prohibitions under international law.
  • Civil society to pressure their local and national governments to hold into account Israel and companies complicit with its violations of international humanitarian and human rights law;
  • the United Nations to adopt a principled, ethically responsible and transparent procurement policy and mechanism for contracting with companies, for instance in the reconstruction of Gaza; that exclude from all tenders any parties, Israeli and other, that are complicit with the Israeli occupation, human rights abuses and violations of international law.

See Joseph Schechla’s presentation

Read the full text of the declaration here. Declaration was published on the UN website.

Read the full program of the conference here.