Veolia is a French multinational company operating water management, waste management, transport and energy services. Veolia holds and bids for large & long-term contracts with local authorities in the UK and elsewhere.
Cambridge University employs Veolia on a waste collection and disposal contract, which expires on 30 September 2012.
The Cambridge University Bin Veolia campaign thinks this contract should be cancelled, and certainly not renewed. We are calling on students to vote ‘yes’ in a referendum on the following question: ‘Should CUSU call upon the University to cancel its contract with Veolia?’
WHY SAY YES TO BINNING VEOLIA?
Veolia and its subsidiary companies work in infrastructure projects for settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories and, in so doing, are complicit in Israel’s crimes under international law, specifically the Fourth Geneva convention, articles 49 and 53, the Hague Conventions 1897 and 1907 and contrary to six UN Security Council Resolutions. Security Council resolution 465 “calls upon all states not to provide Israel with any assistance to be used specifically in connection with settlements in the occupied territories.”
Veolia supports Israel’s disregard for international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories by servicing transport and waste agreements for illegal settlements in the following ways:
- Veolia was a lead partner in the Citypass consortium which constructed the Jerusalem Light Railway specifically linking illegal settlements in East Jerusalem with West Jerusalem, as well as the illegal Ma’ale Adumim settlement in the West Bank.
- Veolia will assist in running the Jerusalem Light Railway and its discriminatory operational recruitment campaign excludes Palestinians by requiring candidates to speak Hebrew as mother-tongue.
- Veolia subsidiary Connex runs two bus services which use roads linking illegal Israeli settlements built on Palestinian land in the West Bank to Israel.
- Veolia subsidiary TMM until recently operated the Tovlan landfill site which processes waste from illegal settlements & is located in occupied territory. Veolia will continue to act as a consultant to the illegal Israeli settlement to which Veolia has sold Tovlan.
Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories are not only illegal but also have a serious daily impact on Palestinian communities where they are located, including:
- Land and property theft and destruction
- Reduced water supply
- Reduced access to farm land and settler destruction of crops
- Restricted movement of Palestinians hindering access to health, education and social resources
- Increased risk of violence against civilians
- Pollution of Palestinian land with settlement sewage
WHY does it matter in the UK?
- The Foreign Office states: “Attempts by Israel to alter the character or demography of East Jerusalem are unacceptable and extremely provocative. Settlements, as well as the evictions and demolitions of Palestinian homes in East Jerusalem are illegal.”
- Alastair Burt, UK Minister for the Middle East, speaking on a recent visit to the West Bank, declared: “Our position on settlements is generally well known. We hold settlements to be illegal in the Occupied Territories.”
- The UK is a High Contracting Party to the Geneva Conventions, which means: “Each High Contracting Party shall take measures necessary for the suppression of all acts contrary to the provisions of the present Convention.”
- In 2010 the UN Human Rights Council specifically declared the Jerusalem Light Railway to be “in clear breach of international law and relevant UN resolutions” (Resolution 13/7). The UK voted in favour of the resolution.
WHY the University of Cambridge?
- Chapter XIII of the University’s Ordinances deals with ‘Financial Matters’. There, we find the following ‘Ethical Guidelines on the Acceptance of Benefactions’, warning against accepting money from third parties that have “violated international conventions that bear on human rights” (p. 975, Notices, 2.d).
- While no such guidelines can be found regulating the University’s Outgoings and Spending habits, we think the University ought to apply the same strictures to those it employs as to those from whom it receives donations: As ye give, so shall ye receive.
- Quibbles aside, all ‘University Business’ is to be conducted in line with the Nolan Principles: selflessness, integrity, objectivity, accountability, openness, honesty and leadership (p. 976, Financial Regulations, A.2.1)
- A principled interpretation of these professed principles would recognise that Veolia is in flagrant breach of international law in the Occupied Territories, thus compromising the University’s integrity and accountability.
WHAT TO DO NOW?
CUSU is holding a referendum from 21-24 October to decide whether to call upon the University to cancel its contract with Veolia, which is due to expire on 30 September 2012.
Note down the date of the referendum in your diary and please remember to vote. You will be able to vote online and in your colleges.
As members of Cambridge University Students’ Union, and as members of the University itself, we demand that our institution disaffiliate from Veolia’s complicity with breaches of international law in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As well as being against the spirit (if not the letter) of its own Ordinances on ethical conduct, the contract with Veolia poses a serious reputational risk to the University.
If you support the referendum, please:
– Join the BIN VEOLIA campaign to help out with stalls and leafleting. Contact email@example.com.
– Join the Facebook group at http://www.facebook.com/groups/266053306755677/
– Like the Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Cambridge-University-Dumping-Veolia/277281125632316
– Raise the issue after lectures, in hall, in the college bar, or as a motion in your JCR or MCR.