The Episcopal Church has this past week formally resolved to divest from its shareholding in Talisman Energy, sending yet another signal that American churches will not be complicit in the oil-driven destruction of Sudan. The language of the resolution could not be more explicit: “it is clear that that current oil exploration and extraction activities do not serve human needs in Sudan, but rather enable continued war and genocide.” Parishes, dioceses and the Church Pension Plan are urged in this resolution to divest from Talisman Energy as well.
Eric Reeves [October 25, 2001]
Northampton, MA 01063
The extraordinarily powerful language of the Episcopal Church will make its way forcefully to the eyes and ears of many, including millions of members of the Episcopal Church worldwide. Coupled with the divestment from Talisman Energy by the Presbyterian Church/USA, this significant decision brings greater moral pressure yet on an obdurate Talisman management that refuses to take responsibility for the consequences of its presence in the oil regions of Southern Sudan. Disingenuous pronouncements about “constructive engagement” with the Khartoum regime are directly challenged by the language of the Resolution (attached):
“It is clear that not only do oil revenues allow the Sudanese army to purchase armaments and continue to pay its armed forces, but that the generation of such revenues directly leads to human rights violations.”
To underscore the historical significance of this decision, the Episcopal Church Resolution invokes the horrors of apartheid, and the church response to this vicious state-orchestrated racism:
“Just as this Church disinvested from South Africa and Namibia in 1985–not just to protest against apartheid but also to make a statement that it would not profit from apartheid, this Church undertakes a similar policy with regard to Sudan.”
The moral and spiritual light of the world has been turned upon the savage heart of darkness in Calgary—and it continues to reveal corporate greed, prevarication, and complicity in unspeakable human destruction and suffering
“Disinvestment from companies that operate in the Sudan”
A resolution adopted by the Executive Council of the Episcopal
Church October 17, 2001
Resolved, That the Executive Council meeting in Jacksonville, Florida,
October 15-18, 2001, hereby adopts a policy of disinvestment from any
company with direct operations in Sudan until such time that there is peace
and justice in that country and directs the Treasurer to divest from any such
company currently held in DFMS portfolios; and be it further
Resolved, That a copy of this resolution be sent to any company from which this Church disinvests in accordance with this policy; and be it
Resolved, That other church investors, including the Church Pension Fund, parishes, and dioceses, are urged to adopt a similar policy to the extent permissible under laws governing fiduciaries.
The civil war in Sudan has laid waste to the country’s economy,
with little economic production or western corporate involvement in any sector except for oil. Oil revenues, which earn Sudan between $450-500 million per year, allow the Sudanese army to purchase weapons and prosecute the war (Multinational Monitor, October 2000). In February 2001, the Executive Council noted that investments in the Sudanese oil industry “fuels the government’s military efforts and systematic
violence against the Sudanese people.” The involvement of western
oil companies–including Talisman Energy (a Canadian company)–pose serious ethical issues for shareholders in such companies.
A May 2000 report by Amnesty International entitled “Sudan: The Human Price of Oil” concluded that “massive human rights violations by Sudanese security forces, various government-allied militias, and armed opposition groups are clearly linked to foreign companies’ oil operations.”
Further, it is clear that not only do oil revenues allow the Sudanese
army to purchase armaments and continue to pay its armed forces, but that
the generation of such revenues directly leads to human rights
violations. In 1999, the United Nations’ Special Rapporteur to Sudan, Leonardo Franco, stated that “long-term efforts by the various governments of the Sudan to protect oil production have included a policy of forcible population displacement in order to clear oil-producing areas and transportation of southern civilians”(cited in the Multinational Monitor, October 2000). This Church has witnessed to its belief that economic development and activity must first and foremost serve human
needs, and it is clear that that current oil exploration and extraction
activities do not serve human needs in Sudan, but rather enable continued war and genocide.
The entire population of Sudan has suffered during a civil war that has
ranged for 34 of the last 45 years. We affirm our opposition to the
religious persecution of Sudanese Christians, the abduction and enslavement of human beings, and attacks on civilian targets–all of which are ongoing in
Peace and security for all of Sudan’s citizens is not possible while the civil war continues. The amount of money that Sudan earns every year
from oil revenue is almost identical to the amount it spends on the war. Just as this Church disinvested from South Africa and Namibia in 1985–not just to protest against apartheid but also to make a statement that it would not profit from apartheid, this Church undertakes a similar policy with regard to Sudan.
This policy is consistent with this Church’ witness on issues related
to the Sudan. The General Conventions of 1994 and 2000 affirmed the Episcopal Church of the United States of America’s continuing solidarity, through prayer and witness, with the Episcopal Church of Sudan. Further, the Executive Council, at its February 2001 meeting, called upon church investors to review their financial holdings and to consider divestment, shareholder resolutions and other appropriate strategies to deter investment by companies materially engaged in the Sudanese oil industry.
This Church adopts this policy with sorrow and is hopeful that it can be reversed when there is lasting peace and justice for all of the people of
Sudan. At present the only companies currently held in Episcopal Church portfolios with direct involvement and investment in Sudan are BP Amoco and Talisman Energy. BP Amoco invested $578 million in PetroChina’s initial public offering; PetroChina owns 40 percent of the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which is the main entity extracting oil in Sudan. Talisman Energy owns 25 percent of the Greater Nile Petroleum