UMC 2012 General Conference Votes to Continue Investment Dialogue
May 4, 2012
Tampa, FL—The United Methodist Church 2012 General Conference (the Church’s governing body) voted to continue corporate investment dialogue, rejecting calls for divestment of the securities of three companies (Caterpillar, Hewlett-Packard, and Motorola Solutions) doing business in the Palestinian lands occupied by Israel.
The General Conference, after considerable discussion, ongoing debate and holy conferencing, supported the call for pursuing positive investment in the Palestinian Territories by a nearly 75% majority. The assembly affirmed a petition encouraging companies to recognize the United Nations Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights* (also known as the Ruggie Principles). These principles seek to provide for the first time an authoritative global standard for addressing and attempting to prevent the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business.
The General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBPHB) is the fiduciary for the UMC pension plan for clergy and lay workers and the investor of plan assets. As an agency of the UMC, GBPHB remains an active proponent of positive investment and ongoing engagement with companies doing business in the Middle East region and around the world to improve human rights business practices.
GBPHB has successfully demonstrated over many years that positive change can result through its corporate advocacy program. We embrace the call of the 2012 General Conference that we advocate that all companies recognize the UN Guiding Principles. Our engagement efforts will include ensuring that signatories to the Guiding Principles submit to independent monitoring of their human rights policies and enforcement.
We also invite all who seek a just and lasting peace in the Middle East to join us in our advocacy work. We welcome all ideas and provide complete transparency to all United Methodists and others as we continue our work, advocating for business practices aligned with the values of The United Methodist Church.
* United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights
The Guiding Principles seek to provide for the first time an authoritative global standard for preventing and addressing the risk of adverse human rights impacts linked to business activity. Endorsed by the UN Human Rights Council at its June 2011 session, the Guiding Principles are the product of six years of research and extensive consultations, led by the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Business and Human Rights, Harvard Professor John Ruggie.
The Guiding Principles highlight what steps States should take to foster business respect for human rights; provide a blueprint for companies to know and show that they respect human rights, and reduce the risk of causing or contributing to human rights harm; and constitute a set of benchmarks for stakeholders to assess business respect for human rights.
Source: Business and Society Exploring Solutions