Morally Responsible Investment Campaign
We invite our Sabeel-Kairos communities, groups and individual members to support this campaign by engaging with their churches on some of these issues. There are various groups working in a coordinated way to approach churches of different denominations. If you wish to join one of these groups, please contact our office for details.
1. To ask churches in the UK to fully disclose (to their members) financial information and lists of their investments in international companies and businesses, in a simple and coherent way.
2. To ask churches to identify any companies in their investment portfolio which are currently profiting from Israel’s violations of international law in relation to its military occupation of the Palestinian territories, specifically:
- The settlements and their associated economy and infrastructure;
- The building, implementation, or servicing of Israel’s illegal separation barrier and associated checkpoints.
- The institutionalised discrimination resulting from Israel applying two systems of law in the West Bank: a civilian legal one for Israelis and a military court system for Palestinians.
- The exploitation of Palestinian natural resources.
3. To encourage churches to put in place a comprehensive investment screen, specifically relating to the occupation (as outlined in point a/b/c /d above) to do the following (even if a screen is already in place);
- Identify companies in their current investment portfolio profiting from occupation
- Screen out any companies profiting from occupation from future investment.
4. To ask churches to review their current policy of corporate engagement and;
- Redefine engagement as a time-bound, structured and objective process;
- Request that divestment is not considered as a last resort, but as a result of failed engagement over a specific time period;
- Consider immediate divestment from companies with whom engagement has already been tried and failed.
Moral Reasons for Responsible Investment (MRI)
2018 marks several significant anniversaries in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. over 100 years since the Balfour Declaration, 70 years since the UN Partition Plan, over 50 Years of Israel’s occupation of Palestine and over 10 years of the Gaza blockade.
Over this time, the international community has continually failed its responsibility to both Palestinians and Israelis to help secure a just peace.
At the same time, the Church has failed to be a prophetic voice for justice in this conflict, and has chosen to remain either silent, or to apply ‘balance’. There is no balance when there is an oppressed, and an oppressor, and when Israel is the powerful actor with Western-backed support and the Palestinians are denied the right to self-determination and freedom.
The State of Israel was established in 1948 on 78% of historic Palestine leading to the displacement of most of its Palestinian inhabitants, who became refugees. Since 1967, Israel has occupied the Palestinian Territories – the West Bank, including East Jerusalem. For nearly forty years, almost four million Palestinians have lived under Israeli military occupation.
During this period, Israel has consistently refused to implement over 60 United Nations Resolutions and remains in breach of International Law through the systematic violation of the basic human rights of Palestinians daily. They are deprived of food, water, education, access to natural resources, schools and hospitals, and the freedoms of expression, worship, and travel. This deprivation only intensifies as their lands and water sources are confiscated to build Israeli colonies and the separation wall.
The Legal Call for Morally Responsible Investment
Harm against all innocent civilians is unjustified and a serious violation of human rights. According to International Law countries are not allowed to cause harm to populations under their control. The de-development, impoverishment, and hardships inflicted on the Palestinians as an occupied people cannot be ignored. Our goal is to insist on Israel’s compliance with international and humanitarian law. Morally responsible investment is a means of enacting our obligation to prevent any assistance or participation in the violations of these basic human rights. All those who believe in a just resolution to the conflict also have an ethical duty to prevent unlawful harm to civilians.
It is clearly demonstrated that Israel, in its continued occupation and the practices associated with the occupation, is in open violation of International Law and specifically the provisions of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Violations of these articles, specifically the grave breaches (Art. 147) have been defined as war crimes.
The Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949, (to which Israel is a signatory), specifies that people living under occupation must be protected until the occupation comes to an end. It is illegal to build on or confiscate their land. It is illegal to harm or kill innocent civilians. It is forbidden to employ collective punishments, degrading treatment and torture. It is illegal to transfer and settle civilians from the occupying power into the territory occupied. International Law also forbids the acquisition of territory through war.
Out of these Articles follows the concept of Ownership Responsibility. Within the structure of corporations, shareholders are theoretically the true owners of a corporation and are ultimately responsible, legally, politically and morally, for the actions of the corporation, which are done on their behalf, for their benefit and in their name.
No shareholders can avoid legal or moral responsibility once the issue has been brought to their attention. If they cannot direct the management of a company to change its actions, they are still responsible for such actions if they own shares. When the church controls through its pension funds and investments large numbers of shares, its impact can be significant.
When the company is involved in violations of International Law – child labour, pornography, apartheid practices, or settlement building – the owners (shareholders) are morally responsible. To the extent they cannot prevail on the other shareholders and the management to end their evil practices, they must divest and seek other investments that are more in line with their beliefs. Even if such action is numerically insignificant, it is morally essential in terms of the witness of the church itself.
For example, in 2004, the International Court of Justice reaffirmed these requirements of humanitarian law and stated again that the building of the Wall violates international law, and has called on the international community to refrain from assisting these violations in any way.
Until the international community takes up its legal responsibility and its obligations to put an end to these violations, organizations and individuals are required, at a minimum, to refrain from giving any material or political support. Therefore, the duty to withdraw any existing support becomes a legal obligation under the provisions of the law.
We are concerned about the delegitimization of International Law that Israel models when it ignores the International Court of Justice, the Geneva Conventions and United Nations resolutions. The potential for these institutions and laws to resolve conflicts is weakened globally when one party chooses to selectively ignore its rulings.
We recognize that regardless of our position on the political resolution, we should not permit ourselves to have any involvement to facilitate or provide resources that would be used to inflict unlawful harm on people. This is a general principle that we stand for universally.
The movement towards a resolution of the Israel-Palestine conflict through non-violent means is now accelerating. There is a window of opportunity to reach a just settlement. Despite past setbacks and much scepticism, many people on both sides of the conflict cling to the hope of peace. As people of faith, the God we believe in is the God of justice, hope and peace. We must not give in to despair. Regardless of whether this new opportunity bears fruit in the political arena, we believe that serious ethical and moral issues pertaining to the occupation still need to be addressed by people of faith. Hence the challenge is for churches to consider seriously the issue of morally responsible investment.
What Morally Responsible methods are there?
- As responsible stewards, churches have multiple economic options;
- Avoidance strategy, i.e. avoiding investment in companies on moral grounds.
- Involvement strategy, i.e. exercising influence in shareholder meetings to actively promote corporate social responsibility.
- Alternative strategy or selective investment, i.e. establishing alternative investment funds that promote justice and peace.
- Withdrawal strategy, i.e. simply pulling investments on moral grounds.
- Reinvestment strategy, i.e. moving the money from investments on moral grounds but being certain to reinvest it in similar organizations that work for positive change.
How Can I Support the Campaign for Morally Responsible Investment?
- Join an active denomination group to engage with the church to encourage Moral Investment.
- Join your local Sabeel-Kairos Community and get involved in awareness raising.
- Donate money to Sabeel-Kairos to allow us to continue to vital work in support of oppressed Palestinians.