BDS success: U of Bergen rejects G4S 4Nov13 November 4, 2013

university_of_bergenby Alternative Information Centre   -   AIC   -   4 November 2013

Norway’s University of Bergen decided not to award a security contract to the G4S company due to “damage to reputation” that would accrue from working with a company involved in human rights violations against the Palestinian people and elsewhere in the world.

The newspaper Klassekampen reports that although G4S submitted the lowest bid in the tender, the University of Bergen added an estimated NOK 2.5 million in costs due to potential damage to its reputation.

BDS activist Ingvild Skogvold translates relevant sections of the article for Palestine Solidarity Campaign UK:  “We have a clear set of core values, adn trading with companies that do not have the same ethical platform as us will lead to reputational damage for our institution. This is specifically related to the media coverage on G4S activities in the West Bank,” said Dag Rune Olsen, a principal at the University of Bergen.


Although the G4S bid was some NOK 2 million less than its next competitor, the university estimated that costs to its reputation from working with a company involved in human rights violation would be NOK 2.5 million.

“This is an attempt to operationalise last year’s decision on ethical trade. We want our institution’s core values to be reflected in which suppliers we choose,” Olsen added.


G4S has questioned this decision in correspondence with the university, and is reportedly considering the submission of a complaint to the Complaints Board for Public Procurement.

Omar Barghouti from the Palestinian Boycott National Committee writes that “This is a very significant victory for the global BDS campaign against G4S, as it deals with the company’s involvement in illegal and unethical projects as a financial liability, arguing that hiring a company as complicit as G4S in violations of human rights carries a steep “reputational” cost. 


Barghouti adds that “the BDS movement has always argued that investing in companies that are in grave — and persistent — violation of international law is not just wrong from an ethical, and possibly legal, perspective. It is also a financial liability in the longer term, as the South African experience showed. The return on investment may be quite high in situations of human rights violations, but resistance to such violations may make the entire investment collapse in a short period.”


Barghouti adds that “Our human rights are indivisible; our resolve to hold to account all entities involved in denying them is unwavering.”

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