Thursday, June 22, 2006

Presbyterians Not Backing Down on Divestment

When faced with a clash between their investment practices and their socially responsible investment policy, the Presbyterians have always called for a step-by-step process that applies ever-increasing pressure on corporations which profit from human rights violations. Divestment is a final step, one that need not be engaged in if a corporation brings its policies in line with international norms and values. Their press release is below:

Presbyterian Israel-Palestine Mission Network

PRESS INFORMATION For more details, please contact:
Kristine Currie 313-303-4458 Email: Kcurrie45@sbcglobal.net

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Presbyterian Divestment - Still on the Table

(BIRMINGHAM) June 21, 2006 - The Presbyterian Church (USA)'s 217th General Assembly retained the process known as "phased, selective divestment". The current resolution urges investments "only in peaceful pursuits" in Israel, Gaza, and the West Bank including East Jerusalem; and affirms the "customary corporate engagement process" of the Mission Responsibility Through Investment Committee (MRTI) charged with carrying out General Assembly policy.
Today's decision continues the call to end the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian Territories. It further criticizes the separation barrier which "encroaches into Palestinian territory and fails to follow the legally recognized borders of Israel."
Palestinians are facing a humanitarian catastrophe. United Nations reports reveal that 60% of Palestinians are now living in acute poverty and that over half of all Palestinians are completely dependent on food aid. The rise in poverty is a direct result of Israel's policies of occupation. These include road closures, the construction of the separation barrier, checkpoints, and restrictions on the movement of Palestinian commerce in particular food.
Since the 2004 GA, the PC (USA) MRTI committee has focused upon corporations whose profits are derived from the sale of products and services used in illegal activities violating human rights. The church's socially responsible investment policy follows a process of corporate engagement to assure that its investment portfolio is in accordance with the church's social justice policies. After developing criteria specific to the pertinent human rights issues, the process involves four steps: identify target companies; engage management in dialogue, initiate shareholder action, and, if needed as a last resort: recommend divestment to a subsequent General Assembly.
Currently, the MRTI has identified five corporations whose products and services are used to harm civilians: Caterpillar, Motorola, Citigroup, ITT Industries and United Technologies.

2 comments:

  1. This is good news. The "spin" in several leading U.S. newspapers has been that the Presbyterians abandoned divestment. Not so! Reports directly from the Presbyterian web site (see PCUSA) confirm that the "D" word may have been dropped, but the economic Action remains the church's commitment. They want their funds to be used only for peaceful purposes. Their financial committee is still charged with achieving that end. Therefore they will continue to work with the companies they find are giving support to militarism by Israel and others. Divestment remains the final step.

    ReplyDelete
  2. This is good news. The "spin" in several leading U.S. newspapers has been that the Presbyterians abandoned divestment. Not so! Reports directly from the Presbyterian web site (see PCUSA) confirm that the "D" word may have been dropped, but the economic Action remains the church's commitment. They want their funds to be used only for peaceful purposes. Their financial committee is still charged with achieving that end. Therefore they will continue to work with the companies they find are giving support to militarism by Israel and others. Divestment remains the final step.

    ReplyDelete