Approved by the: University Senate - April 5, 2007
Administration - April 16, 2007
Board of Regents - no action required


Sudan Position Statement

The University of Minnesota has a long established tradition of concern for social issues. The Senate Social Concerns Committee believes that the egregious situation occurring in the Darfur region of Sudan is particularly disturbing. In 2003, the Sudanese government, working with Arab militias, began promoting the ethnic cleansing of non-Arab Darfurians. Since that time over 400,000 Darfurian civilians have been killed, and over 2.5 million have been displaced due to violence. In July 2004, the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives unanimously adopted a joint resolution declaring the situation in Darfur as genocide.

In recent years, the government of Sudan has been enriched by the influx of foreign investment, particularly in the oil, energy and construction industries. The link between increased government revenue and the Sudanese government’s capacity to arm paramilitary groups has been well documented, thus suggesting complicity in the events occurring in Darfur for firms dealing directly with the Sudanese government.

The information provided by the University’s Chief Investment Officer, Stuart Mason, to the committee indicates that the University of Minnesota does not currently have any direct investments in companies operating in Darfur and that our indirect investments total approximately $100,000.00 in Sudanese government bonds which have been frozen by the United States government. However, it is likely that there are indirect investments - in firms that provide revenues to the government of Sudan through commingled funds managed by independent managers.

Research conducted by the widely-respected Sudan Divestment Task Force (SDTF) has identified a number of foreign companies whose participation in business activities in Sudan it considers particularly egregious. This list of companies includes only those firms that provide revenues to the government of Sudan while providing minimal benefit to the bulk of the Sudanese population. It also includes only those firms that have failed to articulate a policy regarding the Darfur crisis. A recent report by the group lists the firms that are the worst offenders and this list currently includes 29 foreign companies (Appendix-1, firms included in Category One).

The Social Concerns Committee believes that the University of Minnesota should not indirectly perpetuate the cycle of violence in Sudan via its investment portfolio. Accordingly, the Social Concerns Committee recommends that the Senate support the following investment actions:

a) The University, effective immediately, make it policy to prohibit direct investment in any company that is listed as an egregious contributor to the financial support of the Sudan government’s actions facilitating genocide.

b) The University consult with managers of commingled funds that might provide indirect exposure to any company listed as an egregious contributor to the financial support of the Sudan government’s actions facilitating genocide and establish sound financial strategies that avoid investment in these companies.

c) The University contact the other institutional investors also participating in these same commingled funds to coordinate a sound financial strategy that divests any securities held in offending firms operating in Sudan.

d) The Senate Social Concerns Committee periodically review the situation in Sudan to determine if this investment policy warrants changes.

Approved by the Social Concerns Committee on Tuesday, March 13, 2007

COMMENT:

This year, the Senate Committee on Finance and Planning (SCFP) requested the Social Concerns Committee take up the issue of whether the University should divest its Sudanese holdings due to the stormy political climate in Sudan. Several other institutions such as Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth, Stanford, University of California, Brown, Amherst, and Samford, to name a few, have already taken action.

The Social Concerns Committee spent four months hearing testimony, collecting information and carefully weighing the issues around divestment from Sudan and came to the conclusion that it was the right position to take. Another consideration worth noting is that John Bul Dau, one of the “Lost Boys of Sudan,” whose emigration to the United States was filmed in the 2006 documentary “God Grew Tired of Us,” will be the CLA commencement speaker on May 13, 2007. The Social Concerns Committee asks that the Senate take action now so that a response from the administration can be received prior to John Bul Dau's speech.

Link to Sudan Divestment Task Force Report (PDF)

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