Molenbeek adopts motion to include human rights in public procurement

The municipal council of Molenbeek-Saint-Jean (Brussels, Belgium) adopted by a large majority a new motion. This is intended to safeguard human rights and the application of international law in the field of public procurement.

More than around thirty pro-Palestinian activists and individuals from the Palestinian community gathered with banners, flags and signs, from 6.30 p.m., outside the entrance to the municipal council. They then attended the meeting.

To recap, on June 25th, 2015 the Molenbeek-Saint-Jean Municipal Council adopted a motion stipulating that it would no longer call upon firms that were not complying with international law. This included those contributing to the occupation of Palestinian territories by Israel.

A working group has elaborated the relevant regulations. The municipal council considered the regulation yesterday evening to be of sufficient legal consequence, and passed the motion into law.

The first public procurement agreements, adopted on the basis of the new regulations, are yet to be approved in June by the regional supervisory committee.

The motion is based, amongst other provisions, around at national level the Brussels Order dated May 8th, 2014. This relates to the inclusion of environmental and ethical clauses within public procurement.

It is also based around the new law dated June 17th, 2016, relating to public procurement. When the latter came into force, it was anticipated that there would be an optional exclusion on the basis of gross professional misconduct (Article 69, 3°).

In terms of international application, this latter law refers in particular to the guiding principles relating both to firms and human rights.

By means of this motion, the municipal council is including within the regulations relating to public procurement an exclusion clause. This applies in the event that either a candidate or a tenderer commits professional gross misconduct.

This exclusion, in particular, relates to misconduct consisting of activities which violate human rights or international law. Such a candidate or tenderer may be cleared of committing any offence if they remedy the consequences and take preventive measures.

Dirk De Block, a municipal councillor (Belgian Workers’ Party), hopes that this motion will inspire other communes and the region, “Increasingly, public procurement acts as a lever for ethical, sustainable, ecological and social policies. It is also a lever for human rights.”

De Block cites, by way of example, the firm G4S, which had been asked by the commune to explain its actions when amassing crates of parking meters, when it was involved in the Palestinian occupation.

Written by Christopher Vincent in The  Brussels Times

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