Swedish AP funds call for Motorola to withdraw from West Bank

AP funds’ Ethical Council also in dialogue with France’s Veolia and Alstom

The Ethical Council of the four Swedish AP buffer pension funds (AP1, AP2, AP3 and AP4) is calling on US communications giant Motorola Solutions to pull out of the Israeli-occupied territories in the West Bank.
The Council wants the company, spun out of Motorola earlier this year, to cease delivery and maintenance of a custom-designed monitoring system for the settlements in the Palestinian territories. It states the settlements are located on occupied land and violate international humanitarian law.
It’s also calling on the Illinois-based firm to adopt a policy to prevent it contributing to human rights violations.
The AP funds – as well as other international investors such as the NOK3trn (€385bn) Norwegian Government Pension Fund – already exclude Israel’s Elbit Systems for building a surveillance system for parts of the separation barrier on the West Bank.
The Ethical Council is also calling on French engineering firms Alstom and Veolia to end their involvement in a tram project linking Jerusalem and the occupied territories.
The Council, which coordinates the environmental and ethical work of the AP funds – which have combined assets of SEK875bn (€97.5bn) – revealed the new engagements in its 2010 annual report.
It said it is in direct dialogue with 10 worldwide companies on various issues as at the end of the year. External consultants were in dialogue with up to 200 companies on behalf of the Council and other clients.
The Council also reported on its engagement with US retailer Wal-Mart (labour law issues) and London-listed Indian mining concern Vedanta (indigenous rights).
It said its “drawn out” and “stuttering” dialogue with Wal-Mart has so far only resulted in modest improvements. But it has concluded its talks with Vedanta, as its stated objective of getting the companyto suspend its operations in the state of Orissa have been achieved by the Indian government’s refusal of a mining licence. “Nevertheless, we will continue monitoring Vedanta for five years.”
Despite good results from its engagement with Canadian mining outfit Goldcorp over the Marlin Mine in Guatemala, the Council has decided not to remove it from its dialogue list for now, pending the implementation of planned measures.
Dialogue is inactive, pending legal proceedings, with US energy firms Chevron and Duke Energy. Chevron, the Council says, has been associated with environmental destruction in the Amazon rainforest in Ecuador – with the case now the subject of a legal case in the country.
As for Duke Energy, the Council is awaiting the outcome of a case between the company and the US Environmental Protection Agency on air pollution.
The long-running dialogue with Freeport-McMoran Copper & Gold will continue, despite some success – via shareholder resolutions – to get the company to set up a Sustainable Development Committee.
Although a total of 11 companies are excluded from the AP funds’ investment universe, the Council advocates dialogue over exclusion. “A sale generally doesn’t solve the problem in the company and we therefore do our utmost to urge the companies to make a change,” said Nadine Viel Lamare, Chairwoman of the Ethical Council.
The companies that are excluded include nine blacklisted over cluster munitions: Alliant Techsystems, GenCorp, General Dynamics, Hanwha Corp., L-3 Communications, Lockheed Martin, Poongsan Corp., Raytheon and Textron. The others are Singapore Technologies Engineering (anti-personnel mines) and Elbit Systems (West Bank).