Occupation Map

Occupation Map

The case against Veolia - Brent's waste contractors

Brent Council has a waste management contract with the multinational company Veolia. The contract is due to be renewed in 2014. Veolia is complicit in actions which support the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories. The Palestine Solidarity Campaign is working with groups across London in boroughs where Veolia is a contractor to campaign against renewal of local authority contracts.

The Veolia parent company is Veolia Environnement, a French multinational. Veolia Transport, a subsidiary of Veolia Environnement, is a leading partner in the CityPass consortium, contracted to build a light-rail tramway system linking west Jerusalem to illegal Jewish settlements in occupied east Jerusalem. Once completed, the rail system will cement Israel's hold on occupied east Jerusalem and tie the settlements even more firmly into the State of Israel. And not only the settlements in east Jerusalem: the “Ammunition Hill” station of the network will operate as the feeder station for settler traffic from Ma’aleh Adumim, a large Israeli settlement in the West Bank, and from Jewish settlements in the Jordan Valley.

The entire system is due for completion in 2020, with Veolia responsible for the operation. The first line is due to open in 2010. With its involvement in this project, the company is directly implicated in maintaining illegal settlements in occupied Palestinian territory and is playing a key role in Israel's attempt to make its annexation of the Palestinian territory of east Jerusalem irreversible. Further, as a willing agent of these policies, Veolia is undermining the chances of a just peace for the Palestinian people.

Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory and the annexation of East Jerusalem are illegal under international law. Numerous UN resolutions and the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on the wall have confirmed this. The settlements violate Article 49 of the 4th Geneva Convention: “...The Occupying Power shall not deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies” as well as Article 53 forbidding destruction of property. In some cases in East Jerusalem these violations amount to war crimes, i.e. “grave breaches” of the Convention (see Articles 146 and 147), as they involve extensive appropriation of Palestinian property not justified by military necessity. These grave breaches are being facilitated by Veolia’s part in the construction and future operation of the tramway serving the settlements. The tramway also constitutes a significant alteration of the infrastructure of the occupied Palestinian territories contrary to the Hague Regulations of 1907, Section 3, also part of international law.

Thus, through its involvement in the building and future operation of this tramway linking Israel’s illegal settlements with West Jerusalem, Veolia is facilitating Israel's ‘grave breaches’ of the Fourth Geneva Convention, and is complicit in its perpetuation of those breaches. In other words, Veolia is involved in aiding and abetting on-going war crimes. It is also facilitating, exacerbating, aiding and abetting Israel’s breach of the Hague Regulations.

Veolia Environnement has four divisions - water, waste management, energy and transport services. In 2005 the company’s four divisions adopted a single name, Veolia, and a new logo. As the Veolia website states, this move ‘signalled the desire of the entire company to link Veolia divisions in a coherent way and increase its visibility’. (Please note the use of the word divisions). By 2007 Veolia reported that it had revenues of $47bn and employed around 320,000 people. Veolia’s revenues and profits are calculated as ‘a whole’, and the corporation is quoted on Euronext Paris and the New York Stock Exchange. Indeed, even when reporting results, Veolia regards its subsidiaries as ‘divisions’ of itself and, significantly, Veolia regards its subsidiaries’ contracts, including those with British local authorities, as its own. This is clearly illustrated in their statement that "The company [Veolia Environnement] won and renewed multiple contracts in its priority development zones, including: ... Shropshire in the UK in the Environmental Services (Waste Management) division.” See http://www.veoliaenvironnement.com/en/information/press-releases/press-release-details.aspx?PR=660

It is evident that Veolia treats itself as a single entity and profits and prospers as such. This is also clear in the company’s own marketing and public corporate structure where it treats itself as a coherent whole. As this is the case, the conduct of one division is the conduct of Veolia as a whole and affects each division accordingly. In short, if one division of Veolia is involved in activities of grave misconduct and profits from such conduct, then the parent company must necessarily be implicated in such misconduct and most certainly profits from such misconduct. That, in turn, means that Veolia as a whole – all of its divisions and subsidiaries – are implicated in such misconduct.

Under the Public Contract Regulations 2006 a contracting authority may exclude an economic operator from bidding for a contract or may reject any such bid where it is found that the individual or organisation in question has "committed an act of grave misconduct in the course of his business or profession" (section 23(4)(e)). We are sure you will agree that this is a highly important provision which must be applied rigorously. Neither you, nor TFL, nor indeed Londoners, would want a multinational guilty of grave misconduct running any part of London’s transport system.

Veolia’s activities clearly constitute misconduct sufficiently grave to warrant the exclusion of its subsidiaries from public contracts. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine what ‘misconduct’ could be more ‘grave’ than the aiding, abetting, facilitation or exacerbation of war crimes and human rights violations.