French court decision in favour of Alstom & Veolia over Jerusalem tramway lawsuit ‘backtracks’ developments in companies' accountability for human rights abuses

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Author: Centre de Ressources sur les Entreprises et les Droits de l'Homme

[Résumé du procès contre Veolia & Alstom au sujet du projet de tramway de Jérusalem. Les demandeurs ont intenté une action en justice pour demander l'annulation du contrat au motif qu'il violait le droit international.]

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Company response
22 May 2013

Veolia's response

Author: Veolia

The Appeals Court of Versailles upheld the Nanterre Court’s decision in a clear and unequivocal ruling that neither Veolia nor Alstom were breaching international law or the rules of the UN Global Compact by executing their contracts for the construction and operation of the Jerusalem tramway…Ms. Azarov’s describes the purpose of the tramway and of the contract to operate it, as being to “facilitate the establishment of Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied territory and the movement of Israeli Jewish settlers between Israel and their residences in occupied territory”. This is a political statement and view that we cannot agree with…Along the 14 kilometres of the route which serves 23 stations, 7 are situated in or close by Arab neighbourhoods…As part of its disinformation campaign against Veolia, the BDS movement has repeatedly portrayed every contract loss by Veolia as a result of its successful efforts…[W]e are not aware of any contracts that have been lost as a result of Veolia’s involvement in the Jerusalem tramway…

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Article
1 May 2013

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

Author: Valentina Azarov, Al-Quds University, in Rights as Usual

[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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