The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment (MRTI) has found three corporations—Caterpillar, Hewlett Packard and Motorola Solutions—not in compliance with General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy on socially responsible investing and will recommend to the 221st General Assembly this summer in Detroit that these corporations be added to the denomination’s divestment list until such a time as their corporate activities are found in accordance with policy.
Since 2004, General Assemblies have directed MRTI to use the church’s customary corporate engagement process to ensure that church investments are made only in companies engaged in peaceful pursuits in Israel, the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.
Reaffirming decades of General Assembly policy, the 2006 General Assembly identified several non-peaceful pursuits for companies in which the PC(USA) is invested to avoid: violence by Israelis or Palestinians against innocent civilians; Israeli military occupation of any territory beyond its borders as of 1967; the demolition of Palestinian homes, destruction of agricultural land and confiscation of Palestinian property; the construction of the Separation Barrier beyond the 1967 “Green Line” and the construction of Israeli settlements and Israeli-only roads in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
MRTI has pursued the corporate engagement process successfully with three companies to date, and continues to engage others.
“After years of corporate engagement through 2013 and utilizing all tools that we had available to us, these three companies remain entrenched in their involvement in non-peaceful pursuits, and regrettably show no signs of their behavior changing. If anything, since the 2012 General Assembly these companies have deepened their involvement with non-peaceful pursuits that make the General Assembly’s goal of a just peace even more remote,” said Elizabeth Terry Dunning, MRTI committee chair.
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) policy on socially responsible investing was established by the 1971 General Assembly. In 1976, the Assembly established the framework for corporate engagement, which includes proxy voting, dialogue with companies, shareholder resolutions, public appeals and, as a final step, divestment.
In the past, the church has divested itself from major companies engaged in weapons production including land mines and cluster bombs, companies involved in human rights violations in South Africa and Sudan, as well as companies engaged in alcohol, tobacco and gambling.
MRTI has also engaged in socially-responsible investment issues related to environmental responsibility such as climate change, pay equity, affirmative action, and equal employment opportunity, responsible banking practices, child sex trafficking, and sweat shop labor in the U.S. and other countries.
The Presbyterian Mission Agency Board will consider the MRTI report and recommendations to the General Assembly when it meets in early February.
To learn more about The Committee on Mission Responsibility Through Investment, General Assembly corporate engagements processes and to view the full General Assembly divestment list, visit www.presbyterianmission.org/mrti.