As institutional investors, London CIV have a responsibility to respect human rights as formalised by the UN and the Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance (“OECA”) and have selected this topic as one of our priority engagement themes in 2021 (as detailed in our Stewardship Policy).
As active owners, we take an engagement approach which enables us to have a bigger impact than losing our voice through divestment alone. Meeting international standards and mitigating negative outcomes for people leads to better financial risk management. Helping us to align activities with the evolving demands of beneficiaries, clients and regulators, whilst future-proofing our investments.
Following the recent report by Human Rights Watch1 (“HRW”) detailing ‘crimes of apartheid and persecution’ by the Israeli authorities and events in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (“OPT”) London CIV have assessed and disclosed its exposure to the companies accused2 of facilitating human rights abuses in the OPT.
We commit to engaging with investee companies flagged by United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner’s (“OHCHR”) A/HRC/37/39 Report and the WhoProfits Online Database and Information Centre, demanding timely responses to our questions. We will assess the outcome of each engagement on a case-by-case basis, using escalation measures if required.
This piece of engagement work is part of London CIV’s broader active ownership strategy, where we assess global human rights issues at least quarterly to identify the exposure of our funds to such risks and inform our priority engagements.
Other key engagements on human rights violations include engaging with companies accused of the following activities; benefiting from the forced labour of Uyghurs3, supplying arms used to commit war crimes in Yemen4 or maintaining business relationships with military-affiliated Mytel and Viettel in Myanmar5.
We will continue to monitor all relevant lists and identify emerging issues to ensure our funds are not complicit in any violations of human rights or international law anywhere in the world.
1 A Threshold Crossed: Israeli Authorities and the Crimes of Apartheid and Persecution, 27th April 2021, Human Rights Watch.
2 Assessment has been conducted using United Nations Human Rights Office of the High Commissioner (“OHCHR”) A/HRC/37/39 Report and WhoProfits Online Database and Information Centre.
3 Uyghurs for sale: ‘Re-education’, forced labour and surveillance beyond Xinjiang, March 2020, Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
4 G20 arms exports to Saudi Arabia worth three times aid to Yemen since 2015, 17th November 2020, Oxfam.
5 Nodes of Corruption, Lines of Abuse How Mytel, Viettel and a global network of businesses support the international crimes of the Myanmar military. Justice for Myanmar.
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