Israel, Justice

What Should AirBNB Do? What about Western Sahara? What about Palestinian Workers? Answering Questions about Business and Human Rights Under Occupation

As the push to annexation heats up, core issues related to Occupation feel like they are fading. That is unfortunate, as many urgent issues remain to be addressed, including economic ones.

Few issues generate as much controversy as questions over what multinational businesses can do in the occupied West Bank, if anything, and remain on the right side of broader business and human rights principles. Soda Stream, AirBNB, Caterpillar, and Nestle are just a few of the many companies that have been at the center of international firestorms, as has the UN’s effort to compile a list of such companies.

And of course it does not take long for any such discussion to connect back to BDS.

Hence the need for a new report (full disclosure: I provided some advisory guidance) that roots the cases of the Palestinian Territories, Western Sahara, and Crimea in international standards like the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and broader international law. The report steps above the rancor and provides clear guidance on how those apply to these cases and what companies should be expected to do.
As the report states at the outset, “businesses should conduct human rights due diligence (HRDD) for all operations and activities, and tailor an enhanced HRDD process to situations of occupation in order to consider the specific context present as well as actual and potential impacts on the protected population in the occupied territory. Given the heightened risks of abuse in conflict–affected areas in general, alongside the prevalence of unlawfully administered and prolonged situations of occupation, businesses may be unable to mitigate adverse human rights impacts in a specific setting.”
But, as they say, the devil is in the details. And the details abound in each of these 3 cases. Enjoy the read.


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