Sudan Divestment Campaign’s Goals and Tactics and the Corporate Responsibility
I hope to provide some comments that help clarify the goals and tactics of the Sudan divestment campaign.
In 2006, the Genocide Intervention Network launched the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) to coordinate the developing Sudan divestment movement, which at the time consisted of varying, divergent approaches. Some states had adopted sweeping divestment statutes covering nearly all companies with ties to Sudan, while a number of universities had adopted ad-hoc policies targeting a handful of companies at a time.
SDTF has focused on increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of stakeholder engagement with companies materially involved in Sudan. Efforts have centered on three core areas: (1) providing comprehensive, targeted research on companies materially involved in Sudan, (2) harmonizing corporate responsibility standards for these companies, and (3) developing systematic policies to ensure that stakeholders are coordinated, consistent and effective. Thus far, over 60 colleges, 16 cities, 29 states, and the federal government have adopted these policies, which have resulted in more than a dozen major companies adopting SDTF’s recommendations for responsible corporate behavior.
One example of a company SDTF has successfully engaged with is La Mancha Resources, a Canadian mining company that operates the Hassai gold mine in Red Sea state. Initially targeted for divestment because of its operations, the company decided to engage with stakeholders, working through SDTF. After months of engagement with SDTF, La Mancha Resources committed to adopting a substantial Sudan-related corporate responsibility program. This included robust steps, such as meeting with high-level Sudanese government officials to express concern about the situation in Darfur, committing to a moratorium on further investment in Sudan until the Government of Sudan facilitates full implementation of the United Nations/African Union hybrid peacekeeping force in Darfur, and making a substantial contribution to a Darfur-based humanitarian project, subject to approval and verification by an independent and reputable third party. In addition, La Mancha Resources submitted to an independent third party evaluation of its business operations, including labor, environmental, and company security detail practices. Had La Mancha Resources’ only feasible options been withdrawal from Sudan, its mining operations would have reverted to the Government of Sudan, as stipulated in the company’s contract.
So to clarify, the goal of the current divestment campaign is to improve corporate responsibility in Sudan, and we very rarely recommend that a company withdraw from Sudan. The act of stakeholder divestment is a tactic only used for companies that are unresponsive to stakeholder engagement. Additionally, our model for targeted Sudan divestment (on which the majority of the policies in North America are based) includes a sunset clause, which terminates the statute once certain conditions for peace and stability in Sudan are met. Finally, along with promoting corporate responsibility through the divestment campaign, SDTF has worked intensely and publicly to promote direct investment in the regions of Sudan that so desperately need it. For example, last year we held a joint conference with the National Foreign Trade Council promoting trade in South Sudan and I jointly published commentary in Forbes on the same topic.
Our research analysts produce a quarterly report, the Sudan Company Report, on companies identified as being materially involved in Sudan. This report is utilized by thousands of investors worldwide and can be accessed at http://sudandivestment.org/reportrequest.asp. I encourage you to review that report and I would be eager to listen to any feedback you may have.
Adam Sterling is Director of the Sudan Divestment Task Force, at the Genocide Intervention Network