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Dutch association publishes advice on OPT for increasingly concerned investors

April 5, 2014 at 3:40 pm

A leading Dutch association of investors has claimed that many of the country’s pension funds, insurance companies and banks “fail to adequately apply guidelines on international law and human rights” with respect to investments linked to the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

The new report by the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO), based on research into the policies of dozens of Dutch institutional investors, comes as European investment funds are increasingly cutting ties with Israeli entities deemed to be complicit in violations of international law.

According to VBDO, their advice is based on the illegality of Israeli settlements “under international humanitarian law”, noting that “many business activities in this area [the West Bank] are also at odds with international agreements on human rights”.

Speaking to Middle East Monitor, VBDO Executive Director Giuseppe van der Helm explained that they “want the investment community to be implementing a practical, workable, sustainability policy”, including “when it comes to the Occupied Palestinian Territories, which is a growing issue of concern for investors.”

We are saying to investors that you have a human rights responsibility – so be aware of it, and implement it. Look at the business risks, talk to customers, talk to the company in question – and, as a last resort, exclude.

Van der Helm affirmed that guidance to businesses on the matter such as issued recently by the UK government “is most welcome”, and that EU level guidance – as is reported to be in the pipeline – “would be even more helpful”.

VBDO describes itself as “the only Dutch association of investors which explicitly focuses on a sustainable society”. Launched in 1995, it has nearly 600 members.

The new report comes soon after Dutch pension giant PGGM decided to cut ties with five Israeli banks, while ABP pension fund decided not to divest.