Minnesota State Bar Association Divestment Resolution

Minnesota State Bar Association Human Rights Committee RESOLVED: The Human Rights Committee moves that the Minnesota State Bar Association take immediate and appropriate action to ensure that no association funds are invested in a targeted list of companies whose operations are deemed to be complicit with the Government of Sudan’s genocidal activities in Darfur, Sudan. The list of targeted companies is available from the Sudan Divestment Task Force operated by the Genocide Intervention Network. The MSBA shall be prohibited from the purchase of such securities in the future and shall monitor the Divestment Task Force list semi-annually for any updates. Any current investment that is later connected to a scrutinized company shall be sold at the earliest opportunity. The MSBA shall inform the American Bar Association of this policy and recommend that the ABA undertake similar action. The MSBA shall also inform Governor Tim Pawlenty, as well as state House and Senate leadership, because Minnesota is one of 27 states that have adopted a Sudan divestment policy. The MSBA will recommend to Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) that they join the MSBA in this divestment action. The MSBA will further notify companies whose securities the Association has divested of the divestment and of the reasons therefore.

Report

On July 23, 2004, the United States Congress declared that the “the atrocities unfolding in Darfur, Sudan, are genocide” and on September 25, 2006, Congress reaffirmed this statement, reaffirming that “the genocide unfolding in the Darfur region of Sudan is characterized by acts of terrorism and atrocities directed against civilians, including mass murder, rape and sexual violence committed by the Janjaweed and associated militias with the complicity and support of the National Congress party-led faction of the Government of Sudan.” The Darfur crisis represents the first time the U.S. government has attached the term “genocide” to ongoing atrocities. According to information provided by the Minnesota Genocide Intervention Network housed at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies, the Darfur genocide, to date, has resulted in some 400,000 deaths and 2,500,000 displaced people. A limited African Union peacekeeping force has attempted to stem the violence but the attacks continue, not only on the local population but also on humanitarian and human rights workers. There is increased violence in refugee and displaced-persons camps and increased deaths from disease and malnutrition. Forces authorized by the United Nations and the European Union have been authorized but not deployed. The International Criminal Court (ICC) opened a formal war crimes investigation into the genocide in Darfur and in 2007 arrest warrants were issued for Sudan’s Minister of State for Humanitarian Affairs, Ahmad Harun, and Janjaweed militia leader Ali Kushayb. Sudan has refused to give up Harun or Kushayb to the ICC, instead promoting Harun to a higher position in the government which includes supervision of humanitarian aid in Darfur. The situation in Darfur is desperate and overwhelming. As human beings, we all have a role to play in ending this relentless nightmare for millions of men, women and children. As lawyers, we call upon our professional association to take a stand for human rights. The MSBA should be concerned with the moral implications of investment in companies involved with the genocide waged by the government of Sudan. The members of the Human Rights committee do not want the MSBA to receive or hold funds used to perpetuate human rights atrocities in Darfur. A list of targeted companies is available from the Sudan Divestment Task Force operated by the Genocide Intervention Network, thereby making it relatively easy for the MSBA to monitor its securities. The Human Rights Committee requests that the MSBA check this list on a semi-annual basis and take immediate action to release tainted funds. The MSBA has a unique opportunity to become the first professional association in the country to pass a divestment resolution such as the one proposed above by the Human Rights Committee. By doing so, the MSBA will join 27 states (including Minnesota), 21 cities (including St. Paul, Edina and Hopkins), and 61 colleges and universities (including the University of Minnesota), all of whom have enacted legislation, policies and resolutions aimed at sending a strong and coordinated message that the global community condemns the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan. The worldwide divestment movement is strong and growing. The MSBA can raise its collective voice against the horrors in Darfur and serve as a leader in the legal community by taking affirmative steps now to divest its securities in any companies that support Sudan’s government.