U.N. moves to halt trading with Syrian companies after human rights violations found on Trefis ship

On Friday, the United Nations Security Council voted unanimously on a resolution imposing travel restrictions on 14 companies that its members believe have contributed to the promotion of human rights and respect for international humanitarian law in Syria. The UNSC has long listed several prominent companies operating in the Syrian civil war, many from the so-called Persian Gulf, but representatives of one company, Trefis — a UK-based startup that allows investors to do stock screeners — accused the company of shipping at least one type of explosive that has been used by ISIS. Specifically, the company is accused of “humanitarian intervention” — the provision of humanitarian aid in times of conflict — which is prohibited by the UN Security Council’s travel restrictions. The company denies those claims.

TM International recently completed “a number of shipping contracts from ISIS-controlled territory that often involved delivering munitions, which have caused significant harm and damage to civilians and infrastructure,” according to documents filed with the court of Hong Kong on Friday. “This has included the delivery of artillery shell to be used by the Islamic State, that is fired from within ISIS-controlled territory, which has killed or wounded civilians,” according to the documents. The documents were filed in response to a lawsuit Trefis faces in Lebanon, where the company is partly based, where the company is also named in a court case over explosions in Lebanon in 2015, where a press release from Amnesty International published in June linked Trefis to military aid that landed in ISIS hands.

“We believe that the products we are shipping to our clients are also helping keep Syria in violation of international humanitarian law and certainly go against the spirit of the resolutions that have been passed,” Trefis spokesperson Jamie Burns said in an email. “These accusations are totally unsubstantiated.” Burns did not respond to requests for further comment.

As part of the UNSC ban, the companies are required to halt any activities in Syria or Syria-related territories, and to inform the UN within seven days of the cessation of all operations. A French NGO, Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF), and other entities also reported that Trefis had sent munitions to ISIS. Burns says that MSF has turned over its findings to the court of jurisdiction in Lebanon.

The measures announced by the UN Security Council on Friday mark the first time the council has required international companies to halt their Syrian operations. The UNSC is expected to discuss sanctions on the same companies in January, the council’s president said on Friday.

Read the full story at The New York Times.


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