November 11, 2010
A group of international institutional investors has together with GES Investment Services sent letters to top telecommunications and oil and gas companies operating in Sudan, calling on them to take steps to ensure they do not infringe on human rights as the country prepares for two contentious referenda including a vote for southern Sudan’s independence.
The investor group includes the State of Connecticut Office of the Treasurer, Calvert Asset Management Company and Domini Social Investments. Like GES Investment Services they are all members of the Conflict Risk Network (CRN), a network of institutional investors, financial service providers and related stakeholders calling on corporate actors to fulfil their responsibility to respect human rights and to take steps that support peace and stability in areas affected by genocide and mass atrocities.
According to a joint press release, it is widely predicted that southern Sudan, which holds most of Sudan’s oil, will secede from the north following a referendum on independence that is scheduled for January 9, 2011. The vote is called for under the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The 2005 accord brought an end to 22 years of civil war between Sudan’s north and south, which had led to the deaths of two million Sudanese. Human rights advocates, political leaders and the international community are concerned that disruptions in the referendum process could reignite conflict between Sudan’s north and south.
Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President for Sustainability Research and Policy at Calvert Asset Management Company, said: “The potential for violence, instability and human rights violations around Sudan’s referendum process challenges companies operating in the country not to become complicit in such violations.”
Maureen O’Brien, Head of Engagement for Conflict Risk Network, said: “We have reached out to the major telecommunications firms Zain Group and MTN Group because we recognize that they are uniquely positioned to make positive contributions in support of peace and stability. Their technology is vital for information sharing in Sudan given the country’s weak infrastructure, and will be a leading means of communication and news distribution during the upcoming referendum process. But we also have concerns about their sector’s potential for association with harm to civilians.”
Hanna Roberts, Engagement Director at GES Investment Services, said: “We strongly believe in the impact of collaborative investor efforts and this engagement activity is arranged at a very opportune moment in the highly sensitive referendum process this upcoming January.”
CRN is also calling on 17 oil and gas companies operating in Sudan, including China National Petroleum Corporation, India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation, and Malaysia’s Petronas to ensure the security measures they take to protect their employees and their operations do not impede human rights.
For more information, please contact:
Hanna Roberts, Engagement Director