Chevron shareholders vote on cutting business ties with genocide-complicit governments
Chevron shareholders voted today on a resolution to evaluate a policy of cutting business ties with governments engaged in genocide or crimes against humanity. Filed by seven socially responsible investing organizations, the proposal cites specifically the nation of Myanmar, whose military stands accused of committing atrocities against the Rohingya ethnic minority.
Chevron is the largest U.S. corporate investor in Myanmar (Burma). In partnership with Total of France and the government-owned Myanma Oil and Gas Enterprise (MOGE), Chevron owns the Yadana gas field and pipeline that generates billions of dollars in revenue for the government of Myanmar. In March 2015, Chevron entered into an additional production sharing contract with MOGE to explore in the Rakhine Basin off the coast of Rakhine state, the historic home of the Rohingya people.
The vote comes amid reports of a worsening campaign by the Myanmar military to kill or drive out ethnic minorities. The U.S. State Department’s International Religious Freedom Report, released yesterday, finds that an estimated 688,000 Muslim Rohingya have fled the country and that an unknown number are internally displaced.
See: International Religious Freedom Report for 2017 (U.S. Department of State)
The State Department report also describes a new campaign of state-sanctioned violence against the ethnic Christian minority in Burma’s Kachin state, continuing a decades-long struggle in that region.
Preliminary estimates show that seven percent of Chevron shareholders voted for the resolution, according to representatives of the proposal’s filers who were present during this morning’s annual general meeting. Because the vote tally exceeded the minimum threshold, U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission rules allow the resolution to be filed again for 2019.
This is the second year that the resolution, which calls for a feasibility report on ending ties with genocide-complicit regimes, has been filed by Azzad Asset Management. After pressure from investors last year, the company publicly pledged to work for “a business environment that respects human rights.” Chevron CEO Michael Wirth confirmed this morning during a question-and-answer session that the company is in dialogue about human rights with Myanmar officials.
Shareholder groups joining Azzad in submitting this resolution include Benedictine Sisters of Baltimore; Benedictine Sisters of Boerne, Texas; Dana Investment Advisors; First Affirmative Financial Network; Mercy Investment Services; and Ursuline Sisters of Tildonk, U.S. Province.
Azzad Asset Management is committed to providing investment services designed to help people enjoy optimum performance without compromising their values. The firm, based outside Washington, D.C., is a registered investment advisor that operates with the belief that companies in ethical lines of business offer relatively less business risk and are in a better position to thrive over the long term.
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