At the request of campaigners concerned by the participation of companies involved in Israel’s illegal settlements and human rights abuses in EU public procurement procedures, the ELSC has conducted research together with Dr. Valentina Azarova into the legal grounds for the exclusion of such companies from public tendering procedures under applicable EU Law on public procurement.
Our research concluded that it is lawful for a public contractor to exclude an economic operator from a tender if they are involved in economic activities that directly maintain and facilitate grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights abuses, because this amounts to ‘grave professional misconduct’ under EU law.
The settlement enterprise in the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT) is directly connected to highly discriminatory practices leading to serious violations of Palestinians’ fundamental rights, as well as to grave violations of international humanitarian law, such as the transfer of civilians into occupied territory and the unlawful and extensive appropriation of property. These grave violations are war crimes that are prosecutable by the International Criminal Court and as such are currently under investigation by its Office of the Prosecutor.
In this context, the ELSC engages in advocacy at a local, national and European level, aiming to generate national practices in the field of procurement that takes into account the respect for human rights by suppliers. Our research focuses on the situation in relation to illegal settlements in the OPT. However, the principles, law, and policy explored are equally applicable to other situations of unlawful occupation or armed conflict in the world.