Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A Suggestion for the State Department on Human Rights and Business

Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Maria Otero spoke yesterday at the State Department on implementing the Guiding Principles of the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights.

Otero claims that "We must establish clear guidelines and reliable processes so that business can do their part in respecting human rights. The U.S. government uses our foreign policy to help strengthen the rule of law and human rights, which in turn improves the environment for prosperous business. It also ensures investment and innovation don’t violate standards of stable and democratic society."

That sounds just fine and dandy, Under Secretary Otero.  Here's a suggestion to help advance the United States' supposed concern for businesses respecting human rights: get the State Department to stop licensing Caterpillar D9 bulldozers for export to the Israeli military, paid for by U.S. taxpayers.

As we've documented copiously over the years, Israel has misused these bulldozers in violation of the Arms Export Control Act and Foreign Assistance Act to commit human rights abuses of Palestinians, including the deliberate injuring and killing of civilians, the demolition of civilian homes and businesses, the razing of Palestinian agriculture, and the building of Israel's illegal settlements and Apartheid Wall.

Under Secretary Otero, we challenge you to implement your fine words about the United States encouraging businesses to respect human rights: sanction Israel by ending U.S. taxpayer-funded weapons transfers of Caterpillar bulldozers and stop U.S. corporate profiteering from violations of Palestinian human rights.

But, we're not waiting for you to take action either.  Right now we're down in Tampa encouraging the United Methodists to divest from Caterpillar and other corporations that profit from Israeli military occupation. Follow the latest developments from Tampa on our Twitter feed here.