Brussels, 20 February 2022 – Marking the World Day of Social Justice on February 20 a coalition of 150 civil society organizations, has launched a European Citizens Initiative (ECI) to stop trade with illegal settlements in occupied territories.
An ECI is an official instrument for democratic participation of citizens in EU policy making. If an ECI garners one million signatures from EU citizens over 12 months the European Commission must consider and debate the petition’s demands. This ECI demands EU legislation that will outlaw trade with illegal settlements, anywhere and at all times, including trade with Israel’s illegal settlements in occupied Palestine. The coalition calls on every EU citizen concerned about human rights, social justice and fair trade to sign the petition.
Even though illegal settlements constitute a war crime under international law, the EU allows trade with them. In the case of Israel’s settlements, the UN Security Council has called on states to render them no assistance, and the European Union has repeatedly declared that they constitute a flagrant violation of international law. Nevertheless, the EU continues to trade with them, which has emboldened their ongoing expansion.
Tom Moerenhout, a legal scholar and one of the initiators of the ECI:
“The EU has been shamefully inconsistent in its respect of the rule of law. Indeed, the European Commission first rejected registration of our Citizens Initiative but had to change its position after we successfully sued the Commission before the European Court of Justice. The Commission has since acknowledged it can implement a general rule to stop illegal settlement trade that is considered a general measure in respect of international and EU law rather than a sanction.”
This European Citizens Initiative is carried out by the #StopTradeWithSettlements coalition, which includes prominent civil society organizations in the field of human rights, environmental and social justice, trade unions and politicians who unite against profits from annexation and occupation to protect human rights, fair trade, and international peace.