The Swedish fund management company Öhman Funds decided in December 2007 to divest from the Australian fertilizer producer Wesfarmers due to "violation of central UN resolutions and other international regulations".
The divestment of the shares was carried out in December. This was confirmed by the fund manager Henrik Tell in Öhman, to the Swedish Western Sahara committee today. The total value of the shares was around 250.000 euros.
The company’s analysts had received allegations against Wesfarmers’ subsidiary CSBP, for importing phosphate from Western Sahara and thus indirectly funding Morocco's illegal occupation of the country.
“The practice of importing phosphate rock from the concerned territory was confirmed by the company. The exploitation of the natural resources of colonised territories - Western Sahara in particular - was declared illegal in an opinion issued in 2002 by the UN Under-Secretary General for Legal Affairs. The reported practices can be associated to a violation of the UN Global Compact Principle 1 on human rights and corresponding Guideline 2 of the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises”, the company’s analysis states.
In 2005, the same Öhman Funds also withdrew from the US oil company Kerr-McGee, which at the time was involved in exploring for oil in the occupied Western Sahara in collaboration with a Moroccan state oil company. 7 known investors divested shares from Kerr-McGee at a total value of minimum 65 million euros. When the oil company in May 2006 stated - despite its previous notices to the market - that it would discontinue its activities in Western Sahara, the shareholders returned to invest in the company. Download a WSRW report about the Kerr-McGee activities and the divestments here.
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.
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