divestment: your thoughts

In college I worked on a divestment campaign to get my university to withdraw its investments from companies that do business in Sudan. The (highly simplifed) reasoning behind divestment is that withdrawing money from companies that are directly or indirectly helping the Sudanese government perpetuate genocide will put pressure on them to stop working in Sudan. The resulting loss of money will help stop the atrocities in Darfur, both by pressuring Khartoum to change its actions and by removing the funding for the genocide.

The International Crisis Group recommends divestment as an effective way to work towards long-term peace and security in Darfur. Six U.S. states and a number of universities have already taken steps to divest. On Tuesday U.S. Senators Sam Brownback (R-KS) and Richard Durbin (D-IL) sent letters to the governors of the remaining 44 states, urging them to “[divest] their states’ public pension funds from companies that assist or do business with the Sudanese regime.”

When I worked on the university campaign, I ran up against a number of vehement protests from other usually like-minded activists. They were concerned that divestment would hurt both Sudanese citizens and the organizations doing the divesting and that it wouldn’t prove effective. The Sudan Divestment Task Force argues against these claims, but I’m still interested in what you think.

Is divestment a viable course of action to stop human rights abuses in Darfur? Do its benefits outweigh its possible negative consequences? Will it work?

College activists, conflict experts, Sudanese citizens, economists, people who happened to stumble across Jackfruity today: leave your comments in the box — I look forward to the discussion.

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