Church of England debates withdrawal of Caterpillar investments - news from ekklesia

By staff writers
May 17, 2005

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Church of England debates withdrawal of Caterpillar investments


Anti-poverty campaign group War on Want has welcomed the Church of Englandís meeting to consider divestment from the construction firm Caterpillar.

The Churchís Ethical Investment Advisory Group will be examining whether the £197,000 of shares currently held in Caterpillar are consistent with the Churchís ethical investment policy, which prohibits investment in arms companies or companies making ëweapons platformsí such as naval vessels or tanks.

Caterpillar has been singled out by the United Nations for complicity in human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. As detailed in War on Wantís recent ëalternative reportí on Caterpillar, thousands of Palestinian homes and vast swathes of agricultural land have been destroyed by the Israeli military using armoured Caterpillar D9 bulldozers. Caterpillar bulldozers have also been used in the construction of Israelís Separation Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice in July 2004.

John Hilary, Director of Campaigns and Policy at War on Want, said: ìWe welcome the Church of Englandís decision to consider withdrawing investment from Caterpillar. Despite continued pleas from campaigns groups around the world, Caterpillar continues to supply the Israeli army with its bulldozers in the full knowledge that they will be used as military weapons against the Palestinian people. By breaking links with Caterpillar, the Church of England can send a strong signal that corporate complicity in human rights abuses is unacceptable.î

Christian churches in the USA have already begun discussions over divesting from Caterpillar. The Presbyterian Church (USA) agreed last year to start a process of divestment from companies which benefit from Israelís military occupation of Palestine, including Caterpillar, and the United Church of Christ will vote this summer on whether to follow the Presbyteriansí lead. Others such as the United Methodist Church and the Episcopal Church (part of the Anglican Communion) have also undertaken studies into divesting from Caterpillar, as well as supporting shareholder actions calling on the companyís directors to suspend sales to the Israeli army.

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