82 British universities alerted of potential criminal complicity over Israeli investments

London, 1st May 2024- This week, the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians (ICJP) wrote to eighty-two British universities alerting them of the potential risk of criminal liability over any investments held in both arms companies and Israeli settlements. 

The letters inform universities that profiting off investments made in companies supplying weapons to a military that uses them in the commission of war crimes may be a criminal offence. It also informs universities that university officers’ risk prosecution in the United Kingdom or elsewhere for doing so. 

Whilst the letter outlines how sufficient evidence is already available in the public domain regarding Israel’s war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, ICJP has also offered to provide universities with evidence of eyewitness testimonies, should this be required. It will include evidence already supplied to Scotland Yard’s War Crimes Unit and be subject to strict confidentiality agreements. 

The communication comes as the latest development as student pressure against universities continues to build, following widespread arrests of academics and students in US academic institutions over the past few days. In the US, encampments been met with a brutal response from law enforcement. Police have responded violently to peace protests, with reports of tents being destroyed and dozens of protesters arrested.

The Times has reported that protests have spread to several top British universities, including Warwick, UCL and Edinburgh, with students calling for universities to cut ties with companies involved in supplying or manufacturing arms used by Israel. Protests are expected to continue to mount in the UK, as concerns of widespread complicity continue.

Along with the 82 universities, ICJP also issued a further letter to Trinity College Cambridge, following its initial letter on the 27th February 2024. The initial letter followed freedom of information requests being released showing details of Trinity College’s investments in arms manufacturers with ties to Israel.

ICJP Senior Legal Officer Dania Abul Haj said:

“The massive crackdown on civil liberties we are seeing in the US is a huge catalyst. This money is paid to the universities by the students, and yet their voice is being totally disregarded in how it is being immorally invested.

Elbit Systems, Caterpillar, BAE Systems and other companies that British universities invest in are not only potentially complicit in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, but they have a track record of providing equipment that has been used in home demolitions, the illegal Israeli separation wall in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and other tools of apartheid. 

Investment in these companies was already morally bankrupt, but in the current circumstances, it is beyond belief that universities, which are educational institutions, paving the way for future generations of leaders and politicians, would continue to invest in them.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
  • For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact the ICJP news desk at [email protected].