Divestment as a means of action

You are a crucial part of the solution

By bringing your indignation in line with your investments, you can become a key actor in the defense of human rights in Guatemala!

The opposition of the peoples concerned, and the documented impacts of the mining projects of Goldcorp and Tahoe Resources in Guatemala are outrageous. The situation demands for action to be taken to stop unacceptable human rights violations and environmental damage observed in association with mining projects. The fight is being led on several fronts: in legal and legislative proceedings in Canada, in Guatemala, before the international courts, in reports by experts, in political initiatives and in community demonstrations of the Mayan communities. All of these strategies are vital and relevant, but there are also many obstacles because there are powerful economic interests behind the impunity of mining companies. Money is still at the heart of the matter. Divestment – withdrawing one’s financial participation from a company – is a way of expressing disagreement and encouraging change. This mobilization strategy, like boycotting, encourages consumers, taxpayers, and citizens to understand that their purchases or investments can be given in accordance with the principle of accountability.59 Divestment can prove to be particularly effective and accessible to contribute to the change in behaviour of Canadian mining companies abroad.60

Many boycotting and divestment campaigns have been successful in history: the boycott of California grapes in the 60s and 70s, which largely contributed to the advancement of vineyard workers’ rights; the boycott of Nestlé in the 1980s, which forced the company to abandon the marketing of dangerous dairy products in developing countries; and the boycott and divestment campaigns of the 1990s, which contributed to the end of apartheid in South Africa.61 The divestment strategy has already been underway for a few years against human rights violations caused by Canadian mining activities. Thanks to the pressure exerted by the people in the awareness campaigns, more and more investment companies are taking new “extrafinancial” factors, such as respect for the environment and local communities, into account when choosing to invest or divest their funds.62 In 2009, the Norwegian government decided to exclude Canadian mining company, Barrick Gold, from its investment fund, feeling that it conducted activities abroad “that involve an unacceptable risk of major and irreversible environmental damage”. In 2012, theDesjardins Environment Fund followed suit by disinvesting in Barrick Gold. In July 2013, the Canada Pension Plan withdrew its assets from the Canadian Excellon Resources, a Canadian mining company involved in serious conflicts in Mexico.63

  1. Institut de recherche sur la résolution non-violente des conflits, http://www.irnc.org/ 

  2. Coalition d’investissement juste, Université d’Ottawa, en ligne : http://coalitionjuste.com/ 

  3. Harvard University Institute of Politics, Does divestment work?, article de Eric Hendey, 2013, en ligne: http://www.iop.harvard.edu/does-divestment-work 

  4. Il n’y a qu’à observer l’augmentation des signataires de l’Initiative onusienne des Principes pour l’Investissement Responsable : en ligne http://www.unpri.org/ 

  5. United Steelworkers, Canada pension plan divest from Excellon Resources, 18 juillet 2013, en ligne: http://www.usw.ca/media/news/releases?id=0885