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Columbia to Divest from Sudan

Decision based on unanimous recommendation of Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing

Columbia announced April 28 that it will divest from and prohibit future investment in direct holdings of 18 companies with business in Sudan. The University's decision is based on the unanimous recommendation of its Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing.

The 12-member Advisory Committee, comprised of students, faculty and alumni, is the University's vehicle to advise its Trustees on ethical and social issues confronting the University as an investor. Divestment is considered by the Advisory Committee to be the strongest action an institution can take as a socially responsible investor.

The Advisory Committee was formally presented in November 2005 with a proposal for divestment from Sudan by a student group called the Columbia University Sudan Divestment Taskforce.

After extensive review of the available research, the Advisory Committee recommended 18 publicly traded non-U.S. companies for divestment. United States companies are governed by a U.S. government-imposed trade embargo against Sudan. All 18 companies are either in the oil and gas industry or are providers of Sudan's infrastructure, specifically in the energy/utilities and telecommunications sectors. A full list is attached.

The Advisory Committee noted in its recommendation that it was especially concerned about the oil and gas industry because it had been shown to provide the Khartoum government with 70 percent of the country's total export revenues this year, with output expected to double by year-end. Revenues from the oil and gas industry, it reported, are disproportionately funneled into military and weapons spending.

"Columbia University strongly condemns the genocidal actions being committed in Darfur and the Khartoum government's complicity in these atrocities," said University President Lee C. Bollinger.

"I want to thank both the Advisory Committee on Socially Responsible Investing and the student-led taskforce for their careful and deep consideration of the difficult issues involved here," Bollinger continued.

Columbia University does not now have any direct holdings in these companies. The divestment policy will prohibit future investment in all such holdings.

The Advisory Committee is also establishing a process to periodically research, monitor and assess the activities of these and other companies doing business in Sudan. It will review its recommended divestment policy periodically, and as information becomes available that may be relevant to the continuation of the divestment decision.

"We were unanimous in our conclusion that divestment is the most appropriate action in order to avoid supporting a Khartoum regime that has encouraged the perpetration of atrocities," reported Merritt Fox, the Michael Patterson Professor of Law in the School of Law and chair of the Advisory Committee.

List of 18 Companies
ABB, Alcatel, Alstom, Bharat Heavy Electricals, Harbin Power Equipment, Lundin Petroleum International, Nam Fatt, ONGC, PECD Berhad, PetroChina, Schlumberger, Siemens, Sinopec, Sudatel, Sumatec, Tatneft, Videocon Industries and White Nile Petroleum.

For more information, contact Susan Brown at (212) 854-2391 or smb2119@columbia.edu.

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Published: May 01, 2006
Last modified: Apr 28, 2006