Senator Robach Introduces Legislation To Prohibit Investments That Support Genocide In Darfur

Joseph E. Robach

January 23, 2007

Senator Joe Robach is introducing legislation to stop New York State from investing in companies doing business in the Sudan. This bill ensures that New York does not support business activities with a state that sponsors terrorism and perpetuates genocide in Darfur.

The atrocities in Darfur, the Southern region of Sudan, have resulted in the deaths of 400,000 people and the displacement of 2.5 million, inciting outrage throughout the world. Thousands of lives have been ruined from systematic rape, wholesale destruction of vital living resources, malnutrition and appalling conditions in refugee camps.

“The atrocities in Sudan deserve serious attention, and New York State must do its part in stopping the genocide in Darfur” stated Senator Robach. He continued “New York needs to prevent the investment of pension funds in companies that conduct business in Sudan. As the Chair of the Civil Service and Pensions Committee, I know that the divestment of these funds will be an effective and morally responsible strategy to helping to stop genocide and terrorism" said Senator Robach.

Currently, 6 states have passed Sudan divestment laws and there is legislation pending in 15 others. Over 30 universities including Cornell, Columbia and Vassar have also adopted divestment policies. In applying a targeted divestment strategy, strict criteria are set for only the most severe abettors while avoiding unintended negative consequence to civilians.

Using a fiscal strategy to respond to moral conflicts is not an unprecedented proposition for the legislature. The New York State legislature responsibly employed the 0MacBride Principles as a ‘code of conduct’ for companies doing business in Northern Ireland to combat employment discrimination and ease tensions in the region. Divestment at the state and municipal level, including 28 states and 92 cities, was also one of the most effective methods for ending Apartheid in South Africa.