US Methodist Church blacklists five companies active in Western Sahara
Article image

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 February 2016

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.


Wave of divestments over Western Sahara

In recent months, several investment firms have relinquished their interests in companies that are involved in the natural resource exploitation of occupied Western Sahara. Here are 21 of them.
27 June 2016

European banks divest from unethical Sahara fertiliser industry

At least six Scandinavian investors have the last few years divested from international fertiliser firms importing from occupied Western Sahara.

30 November 2010

Norwatch: Rich on Plunder

The Norwegian Government Pension Fund has invested billions of Norwegian kroners in companies that participate in the plunder of Western Sahara. An examination carried out by Norwatch shows that Pension Fund companies are behind two-thirds of all phosphate purchases in the occupied country. Norwatch, 06 October 2009.

09 October 2009

New report: Western Sahara phosphate trade halved

The export of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara has never been lower than in 2019. This is revealed in the new WSRW report P for Plunder, published today.

24 February 2020