By Ben White
University College London Union (UCLU) voted Tuesday night to support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign, in what campus-based human rights campaigners hailed as a “tremendous victory.”
The motion to support BDS was passed by a margin of 14-4, with 3 abstentions, at a meeting of UCLU Council, a body made up of democratically elected members, sabbatical officers, part time officers and student faculty representatives. An attempt by a minority of Council members to take the motion to a general assembly vote failed.
The motion, which can be read in its entirety here, notes that “the Palestinian people continue to face a systematic and institutionalised oppression”, and that “the state of Israel is able to maintain its system of occupation, colonialism and apartheid because of the support of international regime and the complicity of corporations and institutions across the world.”
The motion also noted how “BDS tactics have been endorsed by the National Union of Students (NUS), National Union of Teachers (NUT) the Trade Union Congress (TUC), Unite the Union, and the University and Colleges Union (UCU), more than 25 UK student unions” and “many other NGOs, trade unions, student unions, political parties and grassroots networks across the world.”
According to the motion, the UCLU will now “publicly endorse, and support the campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS)” and “explain this decision to students through an email to all students and on the union website.” The Union resolved “to no longer stock any products boycotted by the BDS movement in any union sales outlet, not advertise nor endorse them.”
As a result of the motion, the UCLU’s Black & Minority Ethnic Students’ Officer will “organise and chair a student working group for BDS”, which will “work with the college to organise and facilitate an academic boycott.” All sabbatical officers are also now mandated to “respect and uphold this boycott”, and UCLU NUS delegates will “vote in favour of any pro-BDS policy at NUS.”
This is not the first success for Palestine solidarity activists at UCLU. In December 2012, amotion was overwhelmingly passed by referendum (74.5 per cent voted ‘yes’) that mandated UCLU to take “take concrete steps to ensure that UCL and UCLU are not complicit in any way with the occupation of Palestine.” In January 2015, UCLU also passed a motion to cut ties with British security giant G4S.
– Read more: University College London Union Votes to Support BDS – Ben White, MEMO