The UN vs. Caterpillar

Nathan Guttman
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Nathan Guttman

WASHINGTON - The office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights recently sent a letter to Caterpillar corporation's CEO in the United States warning that the bulldozers which the manufacturer sells to the Israel Defense Forces are used for acts that may be deemed human rights violations.

The letter from Jean Ziegler, UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, informs James Owens that Israel uses D-9 and D-10 bulldozers supplied by Caterpillar to uproot orchards, destroy crops, and damage the homes of Palestinian residents in a manner which violates their rights to food and to suitable existence, as ensured by UN conventions.

The supply of equipment to Israel "might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights, including the right to food," Ziegler warned. The letter further contains a request for Caterpillar to furnish a report on the steps it is taking to prevent such a quandary.

In the past, Caterpillar has met demands to cease equipment sales to Israel by countering that it cannot monitor the use made of every item it sells.