The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 has today (December 5th) passed all stages in the Irish Senate, Seanad Éireann. In their third and final vote on the Bill, Senators supported the legislation by a margin of 29 votes in favour to 16 votes against.
The Bill has now been agreed in full by the Upper House of the Irish Parliament, marking the half-way point in the legislative process. It will now go to Dáil Éireann (the Lower House of Parliament) in early 2019 for final approval. The bill has been supported by every opposition party and a number of Independents, giving it a majority of support in both Houses.
Speaking after the Bill's passage, Senator Black said:
"This is an historic occasion, and I’m delighted to see Seanad Éireann agree the bill in full today. The huge level of cross-party support is testament to the fact that this is not a radical ask – we are simply saying that, if we know certain goods have been produced as a result of war crimes, we should not be trading in them. Otherwise there’s a clear hypocrisy. How can we condemn the settlements as illegal, as theft of land and resources, but happily trade in the proceeds of this crime?
I saw the impact of settlement expansion myself when I visited the West Bank earlier this year. I saw the restrictions on movement, the separate roads, the destruction of people's homes and the devastating human rights conditions, which are worsening daily. We cannot in good conscience look at this situation, at the unforgivable human cost, and say that decades of empty condemnation are enough. It should summon in us a deep sense of injustice and anger that demands meaningful action against occupation."
Senator Black's speech
Background to the bill
The Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Bill 2018 seeks to prohibit the import and sale of goods, services and natural resources originating in illegal settlements in occupied territories. Such settlements are illegal under both international humanitarian law and domestic Irish law, and result in human rights violations on the ground. Despite this, Ireland and other EU Member States provide continued economic support through trade in settlement goods.
The legislation has been prepared with the support of Trócaire, Christian-Aid and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), and applies to settlements in occupied territories where there is clear international legal consensus that they violate international law. The clearest current example is the Israeli occupation and expansion of settlements in the Palestinian ‘West Bank’, which have been repeatedly condemned as illegal by the UN, EU, the International Court of Justice and the Irish Government.
A copy of the bill is available here: Occupied Territories Bill 2018
A short explanatory note on the bill’s main provisions is available here: Briefing Note - Occupied Territories Bill 2018
Having been passed in full by Seanad Éireann, the Occupied Territories Bill must now go to the Lower House of the Irish Parliament, Dáil Éireann, for final approval. This is expected in early 2019. If agreed by Dáil Éireann, it will then be sent to the President of Ireland for signing into law.
For any questions contact Senator Black's office at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Image credit: Trócaire)