US Methodist Church blacklists five companies active in Western Sahara

In December 2015, the US United Methodist Church announced it had divested from 39 companies. Five of those are involved in occupied Western Sahara.
Published: 03.02 - 2016 13:07Printer version    
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.

The five firms are delisted as part of a larger exclusion operation, comprising of 39 companies. The full list can be viewed here.

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.
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