Submission to the UNHRC 40th Session - OHCHR's BDS Blacklist is Discriminatory, Promotes Conflict, and Violates Human Rights

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The Institute for NGO Research expresses its significant ongoing concerns regarding OHCHR’s preparation of a “database” of business entities based on UNHRC Resolution 31/36.

Although called a “database” ostensibly about companies “directly and indirectly, enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements,” this discriminatory blacklist is aimed at defaming and economically damaging companies for doing business with Israel. The ultimate goal is to isolate, demonize, and harm the Jewish state, as part of the antisemitic BDS campaign.

There are a number of substantive flaws regarding the “database,” highlighted below.1

The mandate of Resolution 31/36 was fulfilled with the publication of OHCHR’s January 2018 report. No additional funding was allocated to this project and OHCHR’s continuing work is in violation of UN budgetary policy. There is no moral, legal, or ethical basis for this project to continue.


  • The blacklist is antisemitic in both intent and effect. No other conflict situation is singled out by the UN or OHCHR in any comparable manner, nor have any other countries been targeted for boycotts.
  • In creating the blacklist, OHCHR is contributing to yet another round to the long history of boycotts targeting Jews and Jewish businesses. Based on our conversations with officials directly responsible for preparing the list, OHCHR has not taken into account the impact of this list on global antisemitism, and increasing harassment and violence against Jews worldwide. Several research studies have concluded that where there is BDS, there are attacks on Jews.2
  • Disturbingly, the OHCHR’s blacklist has been created and developed without transparency and in close cooperation with antisemitic BDS organizations, some of which also have ties to terrorist organizations. BDS seeks to destroy Jewish self-determination by advocating the economic, cultural, and diplomatic isolation of Israel apart from all other nations. It is for this reason that world leaders and government officials explicitly reject BDS and have called it out as a discriminatory and racist movement targeting Jews.3
  • In addition to working with OHCHR on the blacklist, these and other pro-BDS NGOs have extensively lobbied for the publication of company names in order to assist their allies in targeting these companies and Israel itself for boycott. The UK Quakers have already announced plans to use the list to pursue BDS against the companies named.


  1. The OHCHR blacklist also violates the UN Charter, is based on a blatantly false interpretation of international humanitarian law, and subverts and damages the business and human rights framework, in particular the UNGPs and the concepts of due diligence and risk mitigation. See our January 2017 submission to OHCHR for more analysis on these issues available at:
  2. See for instance,;;;
  3. These leaders include, Canadian Prime Ministers Justin Trudeau and Stephen Harper; Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte; former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton; French President Emmanuel Macron; and many others.