From bus boycotts against racial segregation to divestment from fossil fuel companies, to arms embargoes against apartheid, boycott, divestment, and sanctions campaigns have been applied throughout history to put economic, cultural, or political pressure on regimes, institutions, and companies, and to change abusive, discriminatory, or illegal policies.
The UK is currently threatened by a law which will hinder or stop these forms of activism. This proposed legislation will stifle a wide range of campaigns concerned with the arms trade, climate justice, human rights, international law, and international solidarity with oppressed peoples struggling for justice.
Similarly restrictive legislation has been rolled out in numerous states in the US. It is being copied by the firearms and fossil fuel industries. Footage has shown the influence of foreign governments, namely the Israeli government, in applying pressure for the adoption of this legislation in the US.
This is the ‘exportation of authoritarianism,’ that is being applied to stifle opposition to repressive system of apartheid against the Palestinians. Palestinians in Palestine/Israel live under a system of Israeli apartheid. This a legal finding, upheld by leading Palestinian and Israeli human rights organisations Al Haq and B’Tselem as well as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and DAWN, who spoke at our conference in May, 2022. The United Nations has reached a similar conclusion. It is a system of oppression that becomes increasingly more brutal.
The proposed legislation in the UK will curb Britons’ protected right to threaten to freedom of expression as it has been witnessed done in the US, and will hinder the ability of public bodies and democratic institutions to spend, invest and trade ethically in line with international law and human rights.
Along with other civil society organisations and groups, we have signed the Right to Boycott campaigns statement opposing this move. Further resources and FAQs can be found on their site: https://righttoboycott.org.uk/
Protecting the Right to Boycott, Preventing Impunity:
On 17th October 2022, the ICJP hosted a panel event, where we were joined by leading human rights activists who discussed the importance of protecting the right to boycott as a form of protest.
Amongst the speakers that joined us for the event were Omar Barghouti, co-founder of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement in Palestine; Sarah Leah Whitson, Executive Director of Democracy in the Arab World Now (DAWN); Ben Jamal, Director of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign, Manveer Bhullar, Head of Legal at ICJP, Ahmed Abofoul of Al Haq as well as Christabel Gurney OBE of Action for South Africa (ACTSA) and the anti-apartheid movement archives (AAM) in Oxford. The panel was chaired by the writer and playwright, Gillian Slovo.
You can watch the event in its entirety at the link above, or see below for some shorter clips and highlights from our speakers below.