The blacklisting operation was carried out by General Board of Pension and Health Benefits (GBOPHB) of the United Methodist Church in the United States; the administrative agency that supervises and manages the Church's retirement and investment funds.
Included are Canadian firms PotashCorp and Agrium, and Australia's Incitec Pivot Ltd; three companies that have a long-standing track-record on importing phosphate rock from Western Sahara. In addition, OCP SA, Morocco's state-owned phosphate company appears on the exclusion list. Swiss multinational Glencore Plc, involved in the highly controversial oil exploration in Western Sahara, has also been removed from the General Board's portfolios.
GBOPHB's human rights guidelines specifically list Western Sahara in the category "high-risk countries and areas that demonstrate a prolonged and systematic pattern of human rights abuses".
The exclusion list does not contain a specific reason for the exclusion of each of the 39 companies. However, the fact that three known purchasers of Western Sahara phosphate and the Moroccan company responsible for selling off the commodity are blacklisted at the same time, leads WSRW to conclude that this is based on these firms' involvement in Western Sahara. We presume that the same grounds apply at least in part to the exclusion of Glencore, known for its controversial operations elsewhere in the world.
Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the three different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.
Leading activists from Western Sahara are condemned to sentences ranging from 20 years to life imprisonment in connection to a mass protest in 2010 denouncing the Saharawi people’s social and economic marginalization in their occupied land; the Gdeim Izik protest camp.
At COP22, beware of what you read about Morocco’s renewable energy efforts. An increasing part of the projects take place in the occupied territory of Western Sahara and is used for mineral plunder, new WSRW report documents.