Shareholder Proposal on Sudan Presented at JP Morgan Chase Stockholder Meeting
Statement at JP Morgan Chase Stockholder Meeting in Support of
Resolution No. 10 Concerning Human Rights Policies
May 20, 2008
Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Board of Directors & my fellow shareholders. I am presenting this proposal on behalf of Trillium Asset Management Corporation, the Calvert Group, Amnesty International and the General Board of Pensions and Health Benefits of the United Methodist Church. [The proposal received 7.5% support from fellow shareholders.]
Resolution No. 10 calls for a report to shareowners discussing how our investment policies address or could address human rights issues, with a view toward adding appropriate policies and procedures to apply when a company in which we are invested is identified as contributing to human rights violations through their businesses or operations in a country with a clear pattern of mass atrocities or genocide.
As you know, the massacres perpetuated in Darfur by the Sudanese government – which the current Administration has labeled a genocide — were the catalyst for this proposal. Since February 2003, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed by both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks, and 2.5 million civilians in the region have been displaced.
Much of the revenue fueling this conflict is generated by Sudan’s oil industry. With little capital or expertise to efficiently extract its own oil, Sudan relies almost entirely on foreign companies for both. The oil industry in Sudan is dominated by four foreign companies: China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas of Malaysia, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India, and Sinopec of China.
In 2007, working with organizations that have expertise on the conflict in Sudan, we and other investors began to approach companies in our portfolio with known relationships to these four oil companies. Our request to JP Morgan Chase and other prominent Wall Street firms is that you engage with these companies. Use any influence you have to encourage them to press the Sudanese government to accept the deployment of UN peacekeeping forces. It will mean something to these companies to hear you, as one of their investors and a potential or actual investment banking services provider.
Many of their responses we’ve received from companies we’ve engaged is encouraging. Morgan Stanley has written to companies of concern to express their clients’ concern about Darfur, and empowered its internal “franchise committee” to consider human rights matters when reviewing deals. Citigroup has stated its support for UN Security Council Resolution 1769 calling for the deployment of a peacekeeping force. Merrill Lynch and T. Rowe Price have agreed to review human rights organizations’ corporate profiles in their research processes, and Merrill will consider offering Sudan-free investment products.
JP Morgan Chase has taken this proposal very seriously. We are grateful for the careful attention and consideration that it has been given, and we have been assured that our dialogue with senior management will continue beyond today. Because of the urgency of the crisis in Sudan, however, it is deeply disappointing that JPMC has not taken any measure comparable to those of other firms. Your new statement on human rights is extremely vague in terms of providing guidance on how this company will respond to the situation in Sudan and others like it. In our discussions, we will encourage you to take leadership by sending a clear signal to the global community that JP Morgan Chase will not finance or profit from, directly or indirectly, business activities that violate human rights in the Sudan or elsewhere. Accordingly, we call on shareholders present here today to vote their shares in favor of this proposal, as a strong signal to management that a strong policy is warranted.
Report on How Investment Policies Address Human Rights Issues – JPMorgan Chase & Co.
HUMAN RIGHTS AND OUR INVESTMENT PORTFOLIO
The issue of Human Rights increasingly impacts investors and companies alike. Company reputations are affected by both direct and indirect involvement in human rights violations. Operating in countries with clear patterns of these violations, such as Sudan and Burma, may heighten reputational and financial risk. Furthermore, companies can face similar risks when they or their suppliers are found to be using forced labor, discriminating against employees, or committing other such abuses.
Proponents believe that institutional investors, including asset management firms such as JPMorgan Chase & Co., bear fiduciary and moral responsibilities as owners of stock in companies that may be connected to human rights violations. Thus we are encouraging the Corporation to report on policies and guidelines that address these issues. This report and guidelines can address how the Corporation as a shareholder can most effectively respond to these human rights issues, including strategies for shareowner engagement with the companies and/or divestment of such stock as appropriate.
Shareowners request that the Board of Directors authorize and prepare a report to shareowners which discusses how our investment policies address or could address human rights issues, at reasonable cost and excluding proprietary information, by October 2008.
Such a report should review the current investment policies of the Corporation with a view toward adding appropriate policies and procedures to apply when a company in which we are invested, or its subsidiaries or affiliates, is identified as contributing to human rights violations through their businesses or operations in a country with a clear pattern of mass atrocities or genocide.
Proponents believe one example, clearly demonstrating the need for this report, concerns the ongoing atrocities in Sudan, and how certain types of foreign investment contribute to the conflict.
Sudan’s western region, Darfur, continues to experience human rights abuses on an unimaginable scale, including systematic and widespread murder, torture, rape, abduction, looting and forced displacement. Since February 2003, hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed by both deliberate and indiscriminate attacks, and 2.5 million civilians in the region have been displaced.
Much of the revenue fueling this conflict is generated by Sudan’s oil industry. Rather than funding social development, the majority of the revenue is funneled into military expenditures.
With little capital or expertise to efficiently extract its own oil, Sudan relies almost entirely on foreign companies for both. The oil industry in Sudan is dominated by four foreign companies: China National Petroleum Corporation, Petronas of Malaysia, Oil and Natural Gas Corporation of India, and Sinopec of China.
Over 20 US states and 50 colleges have adopted Sudan investment policies, including engagement, screening and divestment, regarding these and other foreign companies operating in certain sectors in Sudan. A 1997 presidential executive order generally bars American companies and citizens from conducting business in Sudan. In 2007, President Bush reinforced that executive order.
Proponents believe that JPMorgan Chase & Co., as an investor, has a responsibility to address this internationally condemned conflict in the Sudan.