Legal Memo on the Right to Boycott

In the case of three German civil society organisations against the city of Bonn in 2019, the ELSC provided a legal memo claiming the full legitimacy of BDS under International law and underlying that the right to boycott Israel falls within the fundamental rights to freedom of expression, of assembly and of association (Article 10 and Article 11 of the European Convention of Human Rights, ECHR).

Circumstances of the case

  1. Every year, the City of Bonn’s Culture Office organizes the Bonn Culture and Encounter Festival. This is a public event which centers around the cultural and linguistic diversity of the city and where intercultural organizations as well as cultural, music and dance groups share their work and activities. The plaintiffs have always participated in the past editions, raising awareness about German-Palestinian identity and culture.
  2. On May 14, 2019, the City Council of Bonn adopted the motion number 1911413 “No place for the antisemitic BDS movement in Bonn” (hereinafter: “the motion”). The motion equates the BDS movement to a new form of antisemitism and, consequently, calls upon any Bonn municipality institutions: a) to not provide facilities to BDS groups; b) to not support any event of the BDS campaign nor of groups pursuing BDS goals.
  3. The motion had immediate consequences for the plaintiffs. As of May 2019 the city’s Office of Culture of the festival denied the participation of the plaintiffs in this year’s edition because of their support of BDS, making express references to the motion adopted by the City Council.

Read ELSC Legal Memo

Read our case summary

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