Northern Ireland

Belfast City Council to consider tighter rules on human rights records of its business partners

Councillors ratified motion at Belfast City Hall meeting

A special meeting of Belfast City Council will take place at Belfast City Hall on Wednesday.
Belfast City Council members have passed a motion on 'ethical procurement'.

Belfast City Council is to look at changing its rules regarding business with countries and organisations that have poor human rights records.

Following a successful motion by Sinn Féin on “ethical procurement,” council officers will look at the mechanics of adopting a new standard regarding countries and companies it has tender processes with.

At last week’s full Belfast City Council meeting, a committee decision to pass the motion was ratified.

The motion, forwarded by councillor Brónach Anglin, states: “This council deplores those corporations that profit from protracted armed conflict and systematic violations of human rights, particularly in the context of Israel’s continuing brutal assault on the people of Gaza and escalating settler terrorism in the West Bank, Russia’s ongoing war of aggression against Ukraine, and other conflicts around the world.

“With this motion, the council encourages companies to meet their obligations to avoid contributing to adverse human rights impacts through their own activities, and to prevent or mitigate human rights abuses linked to their operations.”

It adds: “The council affirms that every endeavour is made to ensure that council’s tender processes are consistent with the above principles, including under the Fourth Geneva convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War and under customary international humanitarian law, prohibiting the importation or sale of goods or services originating in occupied territories.”

The motion calls for the council to “adopt a rights-based Ethical Procurement Policy that takes fully into account existing obligations and standards”.

A subsequent officer report will be brought to a future meeting of the council’s Strategic Policy and Resources Committee outlining “a detailed consideration of the motion and the potential costs implications”.

Ms Anglin said: “Ethical procurement is a positive motive for councils when conducting commercial transactions and business. The purpose of this initiative is to ethically advance how councils across Ireland tender, and who they are affiliated with, in accordance with international law and obligations.”