In May 2020, BDS Australia wrote to all industry superannuation funds in Australia asking them to provide assurances that they do not have investments in any of the 112 companies named by the United National Human Rights Council as being complicit in Israel’s human rights abuses in relation to illegal Israeli settlements.

For twenty years the United Nations Global Compact framework has captured the well-accepted human rights expectations for companies, founded on multiple existing international law mechanisms. Principle two of the Global Compact says ‘businesses should make sure that they are not complicit in human rights abuses’.

In February 2020 the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) released its long-awaited list of companies – 112 so far – complicit in the building and maintenance of illegal Israeli settlements on occupied land.

The UNHRC media release and link to the full report are here.

There are no Australia-based companies on the list but some industry superannuation funds are likely to have investments in some of these companies which are complicit in the abuse of Palestinian rights. See link to the list of companies below.

It is important to point out that United Nations Security Council resolution 2334 of 2016, states that Israel’s settlement activity constitutes a “flagrant violation” of international law and has “no legal validity”.

Any investment in these companies would give tacit support for Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. It is unacceptable for an Australian super fund to knowingly be profiting from flagged human rights abuses. Therefore we urged Australian superannunation companies to:

1/ audit their whole investment portfolio and/or request your fund managers (internal or external) do so; and

2/ if they found any such investments, divest from these companies; and finally

3/ correspond with us as to the progress of points 1 and 2 above so we can reassure our members that their super fund is aware of and compliant with international legal norms.

We appreciate there are a significant number of issues across thousands of companies for investors to monitor. However, we also understand fund managers and super funds typically employ ESG research providers to assist in monitoring, including UN Global Compact breaches, in relation to the right to self-determination in Palestine and the occupied territories. The list of 112 companies simplifies this task.


More information:

2021 – Norway’s largest super fund divests
2021 – Norway’s sovereign wealth fund divests
2021 – New Zealand Superfund divests
2021 – Scottish super funds divest
2014 – Dutch super fund divests
2014 – Luxembourg’s national super fund divests
2012 – New Zealand super fund divests

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