Sudan divestment plan devised

For the past three years genocide has ravaged the African region of Darfur: 90 percent of villages have been looted or destroyed, 2.5 million people displaced, and over 400,000 civilians killed, according to the 2006 Sudan Divestment Task Force Report. STAND approached the University’s newly formed Committee on Socially Responsible Investing on Apr. 19, 2006 to discuss divestment from companies in Sudan that are supporting the Sudanese Government. The mass slaughter of human life in Darfur has been systematic in its execution said Students Taking Action Now Darfur (STAND) Vice President and Student Liason for Members of Sudan Divestment Working Group, Alex Bambery. “A typical genocidal attack has helicopters flying in and shooting any civilian in sight with missiles. The Janjaweed arrive in bands on horseback, slaughtering men, women, and children,” Bambery said. “During an attack all cell phone reception is lost. This is no coincidence. The telecommunication companies are working with the government so people cannot escape the militias,” Bambery said. UVM’s Divestment from Sudan involves the removal of stocks from companies invested in the region. The companies being targeted are those that are most connected to financing the genocide in Sudan. UVM’s board of trustees agreed to divest and they met with STAND again on Sept. 7. The board chose to divest from the 20 companies that were identified as being the worst offenders connected with the Sudanese Government, according to a list compiled by the Sudan Divestment Task Force. These are power, oil, and telecommunication companies, according to the list. The goal is not for the companies to leave Sudan, but rather to pressure them to stop supporting the government. The companies are chosen on the basis that they will not have a large economic effect on civilians. It is not known whether UVM actually has investments in these 20 chosen companies. The companies are currently being contacted by the University and are expected to be heard from within the next 30 to 60 days. If UVM does have funds within them, they will be divested. Divesting does not cost the University any additional money. “Divesting isn’t as easy as it sounds; there are multiple funds that have to be looked into,” said Vice President of Finance and Administration Michael Gower. “UVM has divested in the past. We divested from South Africa before Apartheid ended, and look for Tobacco free funds now as part of our policy,” Gower said. Bambery, is pleased with the progress being made and said the Board’s activities “have been absolutely fantastic and very helpful.”