26 June 2006

Methodist Conference sets new rules for ethical investment in Israel and Palestine

The Methodist Conference has voted for the Church to draw up guidelines on how to engage with corporations or activities that support illegal Israeli activity in the West Bank or Gaza strip companies, with disinvestments as the ultimate sanction.

Conference called on the Israeli Government to halt any further settlement or construction in the West Bank and to immediately demolish the security barrier. It also called on Hamas and other Palestinian groups to recognise the State of Israel and to seek peaceful means to end of the occupation.

The Joint Advisory Committee on the Ethics of Investment (JACEI) will develop the criteria that should guide the Church's investment in this area. The Central Finance board, an independent body that handles the Methodist Church's investments, always seeks constructive engagement with companies in order to further ethical corporate behaviour, but it retains the option of disinvestment if it cannot achieve progress. JACEI advises the CFB on ethical matters.

The last year JACEI has reached decisions on several prominent companies, including Shell, Reed Elsevier and Nestle. Its policy statement on Nestle said that there were no compelling reasons to to impose an exclusion policy on Nestle at this time. To date, CFB has not taken any shares in Nestle, although it has met with the company's chief executive to discuss a variety of concerns.

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