8 Apr 2008 05:01 Africa/Lagos
Human Rights and Investor Coalition Pushes Action on Darfur Atrocities by Stockholders of Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, Wells Fargo and JP Morgan Chase
Groups Urge Engagement to Help End Darfur Conflict
NEW YORK, April 8, 2008 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ --
Beginning today and continuing through May 20th, shareholders of four major financial firms -- Morgan Stanley, Citigroup, JP Morgan Chase and Wells Fargo -- are being asked to vote on proposals that will push the firms to use their investment relationships with Chinese, Indian and Malaysian oil companies to press the government of Sudan to end atrocities in Darfur.
The shareholder proposals are being sought by human rights organizations and socially conscious investors out of concern about the government of Sudan's use of oil revenues to support its military campaign in Darfur, which has resulted in the loss of more than 200,000 lives. Civilians are routinely raped, tortured and kidnapped, more than 2.6 million people have been displaced and two-thirds of the population relies on humanitarian aid to survive.
Four oil companies dominate the industry in Sudan: China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC/PetroChina), China Chemical and Petroleum Corporation (Sinopec), Petroliam Nasional Berhad (Petronas), and Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India-Videsh (ONGC/OVL).
Proponents believe U.S. investors with stock in strategic companies in Sudan can advocate for an end to the violence by engaging with companies that provide revenue for the government to finance its military operations in Darfur. The shareholder proposals are coordinated by a coalition that includes Amnesty International USA, Genocide Intervention Network, Calvert Group, Ltd, Trillium Asset Management, Walden Asset Management, the Philadelphia Comptroller's Office and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, among others.
PROXY Governance, Inc., which provides research and proxy voting recommendations to its clients, has recommended a vote in favor of the Sudan proposal, stating that "investment companies have the right, if not the fiduciary obligation, to seek to mitigate the potential risks associated with these stocks through active engagement on the issue" and it "could be beneficial to both the company and its shareholders."
"There is a misperception that divestment of stock is the only way to address risks associated with investment holdings in Sudan-linked companies," said Amy O'Meara, director of Business & Human Rights for Amnesty International USA, which filed the proposal with Citigroup. "We believe these firms need to talk to the companies in which they invest about the risks of doing business in Sudan, and urge them to use their unique leverage with the government of Sudan to support the full and speedy deployment of the full African Union-United Nations peacekeeping mission in Darfur."
The shareholder proposals are one component of a broader effort to encourage major investment firms with holdings in Sudan-linked companies to use their significant influence.
Please contact Amnesty International for copies of the shareholder proposals and the list of organizations in the coalition.
Source: Amnesty International
CONTACT: Suzanne Trimel of Amnesty International, +1-212-633-4150