Human Rights - Conflict Zones

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Just three resolutions address issues connected to doing business in conflict zones around the world and all three companies have challenged them at the SEC.

The only Holy Land Principles proposal filed in 2018, at Apple, was omitted after the company successfully argued at the SEC that it already has addressed the concerns raised in the proposal about doing business in Israel and Palestinian territory.

Azzad Asset Management has returned to Chevron with a resolution that earned 5.7 percent last year, noting the plight of the Rohingya people in Myanmar and the company’s business there, in addition to other countries with other serious human rights violations. It asks for a report within six months of the annual meeting, “evaluating the feasibility of adopting a policy of not doing business with governments that are complicit in genocide and/or crimes against humanity.” Chevron has challenged the proposal at the SEC, arguing it is too vague because shareholders would not be able to determine where genocide or crimes against humanity occur.

The Heartland Initiative, which is pursuing human rights remedies and is not to be confused with the Heartland Institute (which works to advance various conservative causes including denial of climate change), is asking First Solar to report on its operations. It wants to know about:

the company’s approach to mitigating the heightened ethical and business risks associated with procurement, investment and other business activities in conflict-affected areas other than areas already addressed through its conflict minerals policy, including situations of belligerent occupation. In particular, the report should assess whether additional policies are needed to supplement First Solar’s Labor and Human Rights Policy to avoid directly or indirectly aiding or acquiescing to violations of international humanitarian law committed by occupying forces, such as:

  • the transfer of protected persons from, or their forced displacement within, an occupied territory;
  • the transfer of parts of an occupying power’s population into an occupied territory;
  • the destruction and appropriation of property in an occupied territory, not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly;
  • the vesting of rights of ownership, possession or use of such property in an occupying power’s civilian public bodies or nationals;
  • the establishment of legal entities or undertakings in an occupied territory for the primary benefit of the occupying power’s nationals;
  • the extraction of minerals or other non-renewable resources in an occupied territory for the benefit of the occupying power or its nationals.

Advocacy Position: "No Business With Genocide" How Investors are Helping the Rohingya of Burma