The situation in Darfur is the most urgent human rights and humanitarian crisis in the world right now and, as such, it compels Calvert to act. That is why Calvert began seeking ways in which we might help end the atrocities and genocide in Sudan.
At a camp in Kebkabiya, North Darfur, a mother holds her malnourished child.
We were struck by the growing and potential future impact of the Sudan divestment movement, the most significant divestment movement to have emerged since the successful campaign to end apartheid in South Africa. And we resolved to make the most appropriate contribution we could--above and beyond ensuring that our own funds do not invest in companies materially involved in Sudan.
We are therefore announcing a partnership with the Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) and the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC). SDTF, an organization under the umbrella of the Genocide Intervention Network, is now at the forefront of the global Sudan divestiture movement. SDC leads the overall campaign in this country to end the genocide and suffering in Darfur.
Calvert's role in this partnership allows us to apply our analytical expertise and leverage our advocacy network in support of the Sudan divestment movement. We have already reviewed the SDTF analytical criteria and will now work with SDTF to examine the activities of specific companies to help determine whether they should be targets for engagement and possible divestiture. At the same time, Calvert will combine this analytical support with advocacy outreach. Our extensive network includes government officials at all levels, human rights NGOs, and other SRI firms that have also committed to ending the crisis in Darfur. We hope to work closely with these partners and allies in order to make the greatest possible impact.
Our stand on Sudan is entirely appropriate for Calvert, consistent with our commitment to human rights since our pioneering decision in 1982 not to invest in companies doing business in South Africa's then-apartheid regime. That was the first such commitment made by any US socially responsible investment firm, or by any mutual fund.
Prepared by Bennett Freeman, Senior Vice President for Social Research and Policy
An Introduction to the Crisis in Darfur
The current conflict between Arab and non-Arab communities in Darfur, a region of western Sudan, has intensified over the last four years. In February 2003, two rebel groups in Darfur, the Sudanese Liberation Army ("SLA") and the Justice and Equality Movement ("JEM") rose up against the Sudanese government, citing political marginalization and the government's refusal to protect sedentary, non-Arab populations from attacks by nomadic, Arab-speaking groups. Consequently, the Sudanese government, together with government-backed militias called "Janjaweed," sponsored the ethnic cleansing of three African communities, the Fur, the Zaghawa, and the Massaleit, and any other ethnic groups the government believed were supporting the rebel insurgency.
Climate Change Contributes to the Crisis
Calvert and many others see a connection between the crisis in Sudan and the global problem of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change largely attributes the drought in the region (with rainfall declining for 25 years) to changes in the temperature of the Indian Ocean as a result of climate change. Lack of rainfall has in turn contributed to the strife in Sudan as people clash over scarce resources in an already impoverished region.
A 2003 Pentagon-commissioned report on the implications of climate change to US national security makes fascinating, if terrifying, reading. One phrase should be seared into the consciousness of anyone concerned about the conflict in Sudan: "Humans fight when they outstrip the carrying capacity of their natural environment. Every time there is a choice between starving and raiding, humans raid." Unless we take bold action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, climate change is likely to continue to exacerbate conflicts.
In 2004, then-US Secretary of State Colin Powell characterized the violence in Darfur as "genocide." The human costs of the conflict are staggering, as the United Nations estimates that over 400,000 people have been killed and 2 million people displaced (including over 200,000 refugees in neighboring Chad).
Moreover, according to the UN Children's Fund, Sudan is among the world's three most dangerous countries for children. About 1.8 million children in the Darfur region are at risk of being recruited as fighters and are vulnerable to diseases, malnutrition, and severe trauma. Additional atrocities include the widespread, systematic use of rape and other sexual violence as a weapon by the Janjaweed in Darfur.
New waves of rapes, kidnappings, and killings, including of humanitarian aid workers, continue to be reported. Some estimate that 3.5 million people -- over half of Darfur's population -- depend on declining amounts of international food aid. Humanitarian agencies are losing access to hundreds of thousands of needy persons due to increasing attacks on relief staff and their convoys. In December 2006, a month during which over 400 aid workers were forced to evacuate Darfur in order to avoid growing violence, armed men attacked a compound of 71 aid workers, seizing a dozen vehicles along with communications equipment, thus crippling the humanitarian aid effort. Escalating cross-border attacks from Darfur into Chad by the Janjaweed and Chadian rebels have resulted in displacement of another quarter million refugees.
Despite approval by the UN Security Council, together with repeated appeals from the US, the African Union and others in the international community, Sudan has refused to allow a UN peacekeeping force into Darfur. Although there are new indications of a possible compromise1, this tragic situation continues to spiral out of control for the people of Darfur.
Response To The Crisis
The response to these atrocities has come in a number of forms. In addition to pressing the Sudanese government to allow deployment of the UN peacekeeping force, the United States is working to provide assistance to the suffering people of Darfur. A USAID mission was recently re-established in Sudan offering assistance worth about $855 million (FY 2005), of which more than 80% has gone toward food and humanitarian assistance.
At the same time, a major divestment movement is emerging in the United States, Canada, and Europe. University students, religious leaders, politicians, and celebrities are among those calling for action to end the genocide. Activists emphasize the urgent need to pressure companies to suspend all business with Khartoum until the genocide in Darfur ends. US public pension funds have been a particular target for activism, and legislators in a number of states have introduced divestment bills. As a result, public and private pension funds in California, Illinois, New Jersey and other states have adopted Sudan-specific policies, engaged companies, and pulled their investments out of Sudan.
The urgency of the situation, together with Calvert's longstanding commitment to human rights beginning with our support for divestment in apartheid South Africa, compels us to contribute what we can to the effort to end the genocide in Darfur beyond our ongoing commitment to ensure that we do not invest in companies that materially support the government of Sudan, based in the capital city of Khartoum. We believe that the Sudan Divestment Task Force's (SDTF's) "targeted divestment" approach has the most potential to effect real change in Sudan, by intensifying economic pressure on the Khartoum regime as well as sending a powerful moral message. Calvert has therefore decided to give analytical and advocacy support to SDTF and the Save Darfur Coalition (SDC) -- a commitment consistent with Calvert's history and capabilities.
Prepared by Alya Kayal.
Alya Z. Kayal, Esq., Manager of Social Research and Policy
University of Minnesota Law School, JD; Rutgers -- The State University of New Jersey, BA, Sociology and International Communications.
Ms. Kayal joined the Calvert Social Research Department in August 1994 as an International/Human Rights Analyst. Ms. Kayal manages a team of analysts on social research. She is responsible for analyzing the social, environmental, and corporate governance performance of potential investments. Ms. Kayal has focused specifically on human rights practices, labor and human rights impacts in the supply chain, and corporate impact on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. Her primary industry focus is the retail industry, including apparel, footwear and toys. Ms. Kayal has previously worked at the US Department of Labor's International Labor Affairs Bureau; the US Information Agency; and the United Nations. She is a co-author of The Forty-Fourth Session of the United Nations Sub-Commission on Prevention of Discrimination and Protection of Minorities and the Special Session of the Commission on Human Rights on the Situation in the Former Yugoslavia, 15 Human Rights Quarterly (1993). She is also the author of the Human Rights chapter of the Calvert-Henderson Quality of Life Indicators.
1. On January 9, 2007, Khartoum signaled a possible softening of this stance. However, as of January 22, 2007, nothing had been settled.