The Coalition joins 105 Organizations Submission on Montreal Based WSP’s Illegal Settlement Enterprise to UN Database

The Canadian BDS Coalition joined with over 100 organizations, many of them across Canada, as well as around the globe, to the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, calling for WSP Global Inc. (WSP), a Canadian company, to be included to the UN database of businesses operating in illegal Israeli settlements (‘the database’).

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Immediate Release

September 15, 2022

105 Organizations Submit on WSP’s Illegal Settlement Enterprise to UN Database, Calling New UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to Investigate

Today, Al-Haq and Just Peace Advocates submitted a report to the newly appointed UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, calling for WSP Global Inc. (WSP), a Canadian company, to be included to the UN database of businesses operating in illegal Israeli settlements (‘the database’). The submission is endorsed by 105 organizations from all over the world, in addition to esteemed individuals, such as former Canadian Member of Parliament Libby Davies; former UN Special Rapporteurs Michael Lynk, John Dugard, and Richard Falk; and Noam Chomsky.

WSP, whose major shareholder is the Canadian Public Pension Investment Board, has been contracted to plan, design, maintain, and extend the Jerusalem Light Rail (JLR),[1] an Israeli public tramway system that contributes to the maintenance of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied and annexed Eastern Jerusalem. WSP facilitates the practice of forcible transfer of settlers into the occupied Palestinian territory (OPT), through its construction and servicing of the JLR, while deepening the physical, social and economic integration of the settlements. Through its active maintenance of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise[2] in occupied Eastern Jerusalem, WSP is involved in gross and systematic violations of fundamental human rights against the protected Palestinian population.

Dr. Susan Power, Al-Haq’s Head of Legal Research and Advocacy, explains, “By operating rail services connecting settlements in the OPT, on land appropriated from the occupied Palestinian population, WSP is complicit in aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes, and agents for the company may be held individually criminally liable.

The appropriation of Palestinian land and destruction of Palestinian property executed for the construction and maintenance of the JLR violates Article 147 of the Fourth Geneva Convention.  In accordance with international law and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, WSP, as a corporation operating in a conflict-affected area, must comply with international humanitarian law and human rights law, by means of establishing policies that seek to prevent human rights abuses during its operations and trade. Moreover, WSP is expected to act with enhanced due diligence when conducting business at home and abroad.[3]

“Canada, as the home state of WSP,” explains Karen Rodman, Executive Director of Just Peace Advocates, “is the primary duty bearer in ensuring that WSP is held to account, for its maintenance of Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, and must fulfill its obligations to facilitate measures and remedies for the compensation of the affected Palestinian communities, whose rights to movement, property, livelihood, and family have been severely violated due to WSP’s activities.”

Considering WSP’s Code of Ethics stating its commitment to respect, support and safeguard human rights, as well as its status as an active participant of the UN Global Compact, its complicity with Israel’s extensive destruction and appropriation of Palestinian property, through the construction of the JLR, is of grave concern. WSP must cease its activity in the OPT, in accordance with its internal policies and values, and international law.

The database remains a powerful tool for assuring transparency of business enterprises that are involved in, and profit from, Israel’s apartheid regime. Yet, without annual and comprehensive updates to the database, corporations, such as WSP, remain unlisted. It is essential that the HRC fulfils the duty of its mandate to resolution 31/36 (2016) and annually update of the database to ensure it remains an effective mechanism for accountability and transparency.

As Israel’s occupation and apartheid regime is further entrenched by corporations who continue to profit from, and reinforce, Israel’s grave breaches of international law, which deny the Palestinian people their inalienable right to self-determination, including permanent sovereignty over their land and other natural resources. Accordingly, the joint-report calls on the Office of the High Commissioner for OHCHR to:

  1. Update the UN database annually, Human Rights Council resolution 31/36 (2016) in its entirety, reaffirming its independence and impartiality to fulfilling its mandates, and demonstrates its commitment to uphold human rights standards, and the rule of law and justice.
  2. List WSP in the upcoming update and report of the UN database on the grounds that its activities raise human rights concerns and that are explicitly addressed by the UN database.
  3. Continue to exert the necessary efforts to ensure transparency and promote accountability for business activities in the occupied Palestinian territory, to counter the pervasive impunity stemming from corporate- related violations and grave breaches of international law in such contexts.

[1] The JLR, which services the illegal settlements, also provide services to the A1 train line project between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, which crosses the Green Line into occupied Palestinian territory (OPT).

[2] The establishment of which, is internationally condemned under UN Security Council as having “no legal validity” and constituting “a flagrant violation under international law,” UNSC Resolution 2334 (23 December 2016), p.1. Canada also recognizes the illegality of Israel’s settlements and understand that they “constitute a serious obstacle to achieving a comprehensive, just and lasting peace.” Government of Canada, ‘Canadian policy on key issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict’ (Government of Canada, 19 March 2019)

[3]  Ibid. See also See also, United National Development Programme, Heightened Human Rights Due Diligence for Business in Conflict?Affected Contexts (UNDP, 2022).




Endorsements from Organizations

ECOSOC Organizations are designated with an asterisk.

  1. Academics for Palestine- Concordia
  2. Addameer Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association
  3. Africa4Palestine
  4. Al Dameer Association for Human Rights
  5. Al Mezan Center for Human Rights *
  6. American Association of Jurists (Asociación Americana de Juristas) *
  7. Americans Committed to Justice and Truth
  8. Applied Research Institute – Jerusalem (ARIJ)
  9. Arab Cause Solidarity Committee (CSCA)
  10. Artists for Palestine UK
  11. Asociación Venezolana de juristas
  12. Associação Portuguesa de Juristas Democratas
  13. Association France Palestine Solidarité (AFPS)
  14. Atlantic Canada Palestine Society
  15. Australian Palestinian Professionals Association
  16. Australians for Palestine
  17. Baltimore Nonviolence Center
  18. Barmard-Boecker Centre  Foundation
  19. Bathurst Street United Church
  20. BDS Vancouver/Coast Salish Territories
  21. Cairo Institute for Human Rights Studies *
  22. Canada Palestine Association
  23. Canadian Council of Muslim Women Montreal
  24. Canadian Foreign Policy Institute
  25. Canadian Voice of Women for Peace *
  26. Canadians for Justice and Peace in the Middle East (CJPME)
  27. Canadians for Peace and Justice in Kashmir
  28. Civic Coalition for Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem
  29. Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid Victoria, British Columbia
  30. Comité de Solidaridad con la Causa Árabe
  31. Defense for Children International – Palestine
  32. Early Childhood Development Intercultural Partnerships
  33. Edmonton Small Press Association
  34. Episcopal Peace Fellowship Palestine Israel Network
  35. European Legal Support Center
  36. Free Palestine Halifax
  37. Free Palestine Maastricht, the Netherlands
  38. Freedom Flotilla Coalition
  39. Friends of Sabeel North America (FOSNA)
  40. Gaza Action Ireland
  41. Global Peace Alliance Society
  42. Good Shepherd Collective
  43. GreaterToronto4BDS
  44. Green Mountain Solidarity With Palestine, Vermont
  45. Hamilton Coalition to Stop The War
  46. Housing and Land Rights Network – Habitat International Coalition, Egypt
  47. Human Rights for All (HR4A) Saskatchewan
  48. Human Without Borders Organization
  49. ICAHD Finland
  50. Independent Jewish Voices Canada
  51. International Association of Democratic Lawyers *
  52. International Service for Human Rights, Switzerland *
  53. Jerusalem Legal Aid and Human Rights Center (JLAC)
  54. Jewish Network for Palestine (JNP), UK
  55. Jewish Voice for Peace – Bay Area Chapter
  56. Joining Hands for Justice, Palestine/Israel, Atlanta
  57. Justice For All Canada
  58. Justice for Palestinians Calgary
  59. Kairos Sabeel Nederland
  60. Kashmir Law and Justice Project
  61. Knowledge Track Inc.
  62. Kumi NOW
  63. Land Research Center, Palestine *
  64. Local Alliance for Mideast Peacen Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
  65. Midislanders for Justice and Peace in the Middle East, British Columbia
  66. Montreal for a World BEYOND War
  67. National Association of Democratic Lawyers of South Africa (NADEL)
  68. National Lawyers Guild International Committee
  69. Niagara Movement for Justice in Palestine-Israel (NMJPI)
  70. Oakville Palestinian Rights Association
  71. Palestine House (Mississauga, Canada)
  72. Palestine Israel Ecumenical Network (PIEN), Australia
  73. Palestine Solidarity Campaign, South Africa
  74. Palestine Solidarity Network – Edmonton
  75. Palestine Solidarity St, John’s Newfoundland
  76. Palestinian and Jewish Unity (PAJU), Montreal
  77. Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), Palestine
  78. Palestinian Christian Alliance for Peace, Vienna
  79. Peace Alliance Winnipeg
  80. People for Peace-London
  81. Quebec Public Interest Research Group – Concordia
  82. Regina Peace Council, Saskatchewan
  83. Rosette Network Ltd., Canada
  84. Rumbo a Gaza, Spain
  85. Sabeel Jerusalem
  86. Sadaka The Ireland Palestinian Alliance
  87. Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
  88. Social Justice Centre UBC
  89. Socialist Action/Ligue pour L’Action socialiste, Canada
  90. Solidarité populaire Estrie, Sherbrooke
  91. SOMO (The Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations),the Netherlands
  92. SPHR-McGill
  93. StandWithKashmir
  94. Students for Justice in Palestine at Rutgers – New Brunswick
  95. The Canadian BDS Coalition
  96. The Community Action Center / Al-Quds University
  97. The Israel Palestine Mission Network of the Presbyterian Church (USA)
  98. The Muslim Youth Movement of South Africa
  99. The Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy – MIFTAH *
  100. Union of Agricultural Work Committees, Palestine
  101. United Network for Justice and Peace in Palestine and Israel, Canada
  102. Victoria Peace Coalition, British Columbia
  103. Winnipeg Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid
  104. Women’s Centre for Legal Aid and Counseling, Ramallah *
  105. World BEYOND War

See list of individuals.

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