Protect the Right to Boycott

In another attempt to stifle effective protest, the government will be bringing to Parliament new anti-boycott legislation in the coming months. With new laws put in place, it will become illegal for public bodies to use divestment and procurement bans against oppressive and corrupt regimes, or companies whose actions are destroying the planet.

As artists and cultural workers, and as citizens, we strongly affirm our collective commitment to boycott Israeli apartheid until Palestine is free, regardless of government legislation. This antidemocratic bill risks blocking campaigners from seeking accountability when institutions and corporations are involved in violations of international law. Artists for Palestine UK is proud to be one of more than 40 organisations which have come together in the Right to Boycott Campaign to oppose the government’s measures. Below is our Campaign’s founding statement. Please share it widely. 

Civil Society Statement

As a group of civil society organisations made up of trade unions, charities, NGOs, faith, climate justice, human rights, cultural, campaigning, and solidarity organisations, we advocate for the right of public bodies to decide not to purchase or procure from, or invest in companies involved in human rights abuse, abuse of workers’ rights, destruction of our planet, or any other harmful or illegal acts. We therefore oppose the government’s proposed law to stop public bodies from taking such actions. 

The government has indicated that a main intention of any legislation is to ensure that public bodies follow UK foreign policy in their purchasing, procurement, and investment decisions, particularly relating to Israel and Palestine. We are concerned that this would prevent public bodies from deciding not to invest in or procure from companies complicit in the violation of the rights of the Palestinian people. We affirm that it is the right of public bodies to do so, and in fact a responsibility to break ties with companies contributing to abuses of rights and violations of international law in occupied Palestine and anywhere else where such acts occur.

From bus boycotts against racial segregation to divestment from fossil fuel companies to arms embargoes against apartheid, boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns have been applied throughout history to put economic, cultural, or political pressure on a regime, institution, or company to force it to change abusive, discriminatory, or illegal policies. If passed, this law will stifle a wide range of campaigns concerned with the arms trade, climate justice, human rights, international law, and international solidarity with oppressed peoples struggling for justice. The proposed law presents a threat to freedom of expression, and the ability of public bodies and democratic institutions to spend, invest and trade ethically in line with international law and human rights.

We call on the UK government to immediately halt this bill, on opposition parties to oppose it and on civil society to mobilise in support of the right to boycott in the cause of justice.

Signatories

  • Action for Southern Africa (ACTSA)
  • Amos trust
  • Anti Apartheid Movement Archives Committee
  • Artists for Palestine UK
  • Bakers, Food and Allied Workers Union (BFAWU)
  • British Committee for the Universities of Palestine
  • BRISMES Campaigns
  • British Palestinian Council
  • Campaign Against Arms Trade
  • Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament
  • Communication Workers Union (CWU)
  • European Legal Support Centre
  • Friends of Birzeit University (FOBZU)
  • Free Speech on Israel
  • Friends of Al Aqsa
  • Friends of the Earth (England, Wales and Northern Ireland)
  • Global Justice Now
  • Greenpeace UK
  • Institute of Race Relations
  • International Centre of Justice for Palestinians
  • Israeli Committee against House Demolitions UK
  • Jews for Justice for Palestinians (JJP)
  • Labour and Palestine
  • London Mining Network
  • Makan
  • Methodist Church in Britain
  • Movement for the Abolition of War
  • Muslim Association of Britain
  • National Education Union
  • National Union of Students
  • Netpol
  • Palestine Solidarity Campaign
  • People and Planet
  • Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS)
  • Quaker Roots
  • Quakers in Britain
  • Rail, Maritime, and Transport Workers Union (RMT)
  • Sabeel-Kairos UK
  • SOS-UK (NUS climate campaign)
  • Stamp out Poverty
  • Transport Salaried Staffs Association Union (TSSA)
  • UNISON
  • Unite the Union
  • United Reformed Church
  • University and College Union (UCU)
  • War on Want

For more information, please see the campaign website: https://righttoboycott.org.uk