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DemocratandChronicle.com: University of Rochester won’t invest in Sudan

EXTRACT: UR’s board of trustees investment committee agreed earlier this month “to prohibit direct investments in companies identified as supporting the Sudanese government’s activities in Darfur,” according to its new policy. The policy comes with a list of 28 firms, such as Siemens AG, Royal Dutch Shell and Sudan Telecom, that UR no longer will invest in as part of the policy.

THE ARTICLE

University, citing Darfur, to steer clear of firms working there

Matthew Daneman
Staff writer

(October 31, 2006) — University of Rochester will no longer invest in companies that support the Sudanese government’s activities in the Darfur region.

With that step, UR joins a peppering of higher education institutions and state pension funds across the nation that have taken similar steps to divest from and ban any future investments in Sudan while internal civil war there continues.

The goal is “to try to bring whatever pressure we can on a situation that has been labeled uniformly as genocide,” said G. Robert Witmer Jr., chairman of UR’s board of trustees. “Anyone who sees what is occurring there has to be appalled.”

UR’s board of trustees investment committee agreed earlier this month “to prohibit direct investments in companies identified as supporting the Sudanese government’s activities in Darfur,” according to its new policy. The policy comes with a list of 28 firms, such as Siemens AG, Royal Dutch Shell and Sudan Telecom, that UR no longer will invest in as part of the policy.

UR has not had to shed any of its investments because of the new policy, Witmer said. “The university holds no direct investment in companies doing business in the Sudan, to our knowledge,” he said.

Higher education saw a similar divestment movement in the 1980s, as many schools got rid of their holdings of businesses operating in South Africa during apartheid. UR divested from South Africa in 1987.

According to the Washington-based Genocide Intervention Network’s Sudan Divestment Task Force, more than three dozen colleges and universities nationwide, from Harvard University to the University of Wisconsin system, have either enacted Sudan divestment policies or are considering them.

UR is apparently the only Rochester-area institution to have done so thus far.

Cornell University in August announced that its endowment assets would not be invested in any oil companies operating in Sudan and in obligations of the Sudanese government.

“It is the best way to stand up for the people of Darfur by refusing to invest in such companies that, in effect, provide the financial backing to the instigators of genocide,” Cornell President David Skorton said in a statement.

The United Nations estimates that at least 200,000 people have been killed and 2 million made homeless by fighting between government troops, government-backed militias and rebel forces. And the United States has labeled the Sudanese government-backed killings in the Darfur region “genocide.”

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