Campaigners today welcomed the Church of England’s overwhelming vote in favour of divesting its £2.2 million shares from bulldozer manufacturer Caterpillar. The vote, supported by the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, sends a clear message to Caterpillar that profiting from human rights violations is not compatible with socially responsible business practice.
The General Synod of the Church of England voted yesterday evening (6 February 2006) “to disinvest from companies profiting from the illegal occupation, such as Caterpillar Inc, until they change their policies”. The Church Commissioners now need to enforce the Synod’s decision.
Caterpillar has been singled out by the United Nations for complicity in human rights abuses in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Thousands of Palestinian homes and vast swathes of agricultural land have been destroyed by the Israeli military using armoured Caterpillar D9 bulldozers.
Nick Dearden, Campaigns Officer at War on Want, said: “We are delighted at the Synod’s decision to divest shares from Caterpillar. It vindicates the serious concerns we have about the use of Caterpillar machines in the human rights violations being perpetrated by the Israeli army on illegally held Palestinian land. We now call on the Church Commissioners to enforce the Synod’s decision, and to send a clear message that companies like Caterpillar have a responsibility to ensure their products are not used to violate human rights.”