UNICEF’s Jordan branch dumps Israeli occupation profiteer G4S

Palestinians and Jordanians are welcoming the decision by the United Nations children’s agency UNICEF to end its contract with G4S in Jordan.

The decision comes after a year-long campaign by activists in Jordan urging UNICEF and other UN bodies to end their contracts with the international security and incarceration firm over its role in Israel’s imprisonment and torture of Palestinian political prisoners and other Israeli human rights abuses.

“UNICEF did the right thing by ending its contract with G4S as the company supports violations of rights of Palestinian children including their routine torture in Israeli jails,” Guman Mussa, the Arab World campaigns coordinator with the Palestinian Boycott Divestment and Sanction National Committee (BNC), said.

Stop G4S

UNICEF is the second UN agency in Jordan to dump G4S, following UNHCR, the UN agency that cares for hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees in the country.

“We urge the United Nations, its Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and all UN agencies contracting G4S worldwide to follow the lead of UNICEF and UNHCR in Jordan and immediately end their contracts with G4S,” Mussa added.

The BNC, the Palestinian civil society coalition that leads the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement, has endorsed the global Stop G4S campaign which aims to hold the company accountable for providing equipment and services to Israeli prisons in which thousands of Palestinian political prisoners, children and administrative detainees are subjected to inhumane treatment.

G4S also provides equipment for checkpoints along Israel’s wall annexing Palestinian land in the occupied West Bank and for its settlements built in violation of international law.

The firm also co-manages the Israeli police academy in Jerusalem.

Two down, three to go

G4S has lost contracts worth $22 million globally as a result of the Stop G4S campaign, according to the BNC.

Just last month, a Colombian restaurant chain with branches across Latin America and Spain also dropped G4S after a year-long campaign by BDS Colombia.

Following the successes with UNICEF and UNHCR, Jordan BDS, the activist group that has spearheaded the campaign locally, is now aiming to get three other UN agencies working in Jordan to drop G4S as well.

The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), World Food Program and United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) still have contracts with G4S.

The campaign in Jordan received a huge boost last month when dozens of Jordanian organizations formed a coalition to support Muhammad al-Qiq, the Palestinian journalist who staged a historic 94-day hunger strike against his imprisonment without charge or trial by Israel.

The coalition, which held demonstrations outside UN offices in Amman, issued a statement “demanding the UN to intervene to save the life of al-Qiq and as well as to end its contracts with the security firm G4S for its role in the Israeli occupation,” the BNC said.

“We will continue campaigning to demand an end to all UN agency contracts with G4S until the firm stops profiting from occupation and apartheid,” said Yazid Halaseh, a member of Jordan BDS.

“The United Nations should simply ban this notorious firm from its procurement process because it is profiting from the Israeli settler-colonial project, ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and apartheid policies,” Halaseh added. “These are all violations of UN resolutions, basic principles of human rights and international law.”

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There should be no room in this world for a company like G4S. It's gratifying to see them being dropped by another agency unwilling to be complicit in torture, summary punishment without trial, and all the myriad crimes of occupation. As well, it's good to see Muhammad al-Qiq's unwavering resistance mentioned in connection with this positive outcome.

Ali Abunimah

Ali Abunimah's picture

Co-founder of The Electronic Intifada and author of The Battle for Justice in Palestine, now out from Haymarket Books.

Also wrote One Country: A Bold-Proposal to End the Israeli-Palestinian Impasse. Opinions are mine alone.