Investors urged to follow Church of England on Caterpillar

By staff writers
February 11, 2009

The decision by the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar has been welcomed by the charity War on Want.

Institutional investors are now being urged to follow the Church's lead by disinvesting from the company whose bulldozers have been used to build the Separation Wall and destroy Palestinians’ homes.

The call, from the anti-poverty charity War on Want, comes after the Church of England decision to divest £2.2 million from Caterpillar on financial grounds.

Yasmin Khan, senior campaigns officer at War on Want, said: “The Church of England's decision to disinvest from Caterpillar is welcome. It also brings the Church in line with its own ethical investment policy and the decision of the General Synod. Now other institutional investors should take similar action.”

War on Want has long called for the Church of England to disinvest from Caterpillar on the grounds of the company's complicity in the violation of Palestinian human rights.

In the report Profiting From the Occupation, the charity attacked Caterpillar over selling bulldozers for the Israeli army to destroy Palestinian homes, schools, orchards and olive groves.

It said that equipment from Caterpillar was also used to construct the Separation Wall, ruled illegal by the International Court of Justice.

The UN has singled out Caterpillar for its collusion with Israel’s human rights abuse.

In 2006 the Church of England General Synod voted to withdraw its investment from Caterpillar. But the Church Commissioners failed to follow the Synod’s decision.

After the Israeli onslaught against Gaza in recent weeks, Palestinian civil society groups, including the charity’s partner Stop the Wall, have called for an escalation of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel's occupation of the Palestinian territories.

The Church of England however is now facing pressure to sell its investments in several mining companies, worth around £80 million, after they were criticised over practices in the Philippines.

Campaigners say that they could sell these shares on "financial grounds" as their investment in one of the companies (BHP Billiton) has halved in value, and in the other (Xstrata) has plummeted by 80% over the last year.

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