Backtracking on Responsibility: French Court Absolves Veolia for Unlawful Railway Construction in Occupied Territory

Author: Valentina Azarov, Al-Quds University, in Rights as Usual, Published on: 1 May 2013

[Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Veolia to respond. Veolia's response is provided below] On 22 March 2013…the Versailles Court of Appeal dismissed the case against two French companies, Alstom and Veolia, for their involvement in a contract for the construction of a light railway between illegal Israeli settlements located in East Jerusalem, inside the Palestinian territory of the West Bank, and West Jerusalem, territory located inside Israel’s internationally-recognised borders…The decision holds that private companies are not subjects of international law and do not have international legal personality…As such, the international legal obligations relied on by the claimants were neither directly applicable to private companies, nor did they give rise to rights that can be claimed by individuals…In so doing, the Court adopts a position that strikingly backtracks on the important international developments concerning the responsibility of multinational companies under international law, including to ‘protect, respect and remedy’ human rights…

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Related companies: Alstom Veolia (formerly Vivendi Environnement) Veolia Transport (now Transdev)