Sunday, January 28, 2018

New Orlean's Short Lived Human Rights Resolution

On January 11, 2018, New Orleans City Counsel passed a resolution that required the city to screen investments to assure that those investments in corporations that profited from human rights abuses were not part of the city's investment portfolio.  New Orleans led the nation in passing this resolution.   Promoters of the resolution noted the impact that de-investment had on ending apartheid.

Amnesty International USA called the resolution "a positive step for the city in guaranteeing that public funds are not used to support or facilitate the suffering of others through violations of not only the city's values, but also of international human rights and humanitarian law.

The resolution was promoted by the New Orleans Palestine Solidarity Committee, the New Orleans Avodah Jewish Service Corps, and First Grace Community Alliance.

Yet, the day after passage, the Mayor announced that he would not abide by the terms of the resolution. Despite the fact that resolution developed over one year, the Mayor claimed that the resolution was not sufficiently considered.  And some council members voiced concerns that implementation of the resolution would be used to single out Israel.  Despite the length of time it took for this resolution to pass, apparently the opposition developed not because of concern over the principles but concern over the Solidarity Committee's sponsorship. 

The International Corporate Accountability Roundtable and 20 other organizations sent a letter commending the City Council for passing the resolution and encouraging the council not to rescind it. 

What was absent from the process was a conversation around implementation, which was to happen by committee.  Implementation of any human rights act can be complicated, but the hasty withdrawal of the resolution left no room for discussion on which companies would be affected and how investment and de-investment decisions would be made.   Decisions made out of fair undermine human rights endeavors.

Two unknowns overshadow the situation:  whether there is any room to reach an understanding that would address the all concerns, given the political charge of the situation.  Also, will the reversal of this resolution, and the resulting distrust, cause undue scrutiny of future, unrelated human rights resolutions.

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