Write a letter: CPP investments stop its support of Israeli war crimes
Take one minute, and send a letter to Canada Pension Plan Investment Board (CPPIB) with copy to Minister of Finance. Demand that CPPIB Divest from investments that support Israeli war crimes.
The 2021 CPPIB Annual Report showed increased investments in Israeli war crimes with at least 10 companies identified by the UN as complicit in war crimes.
Even if you have written earlier in 2021, write again and note you are still waiting for a response to your earlier letter/s.
CPPIB Investments in Companies Listed in the United Nations Database
The United Nations (UN) Database is a list of companies complicit with human rights violations.
The UN Database was released on February 12, 2020 in the Report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (A/HRC/43/71) after the independent international fact-finding mission to investigate the implications of the Israeli settlements on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of the Palestinian people throughout the oPt, including East Jerusalem. There are a total of 112 companies included on the UN list. Based on CPP’s March 31, 2021 annual listing of equity holding, the CPP is invested in at least ten companies that are listed in the United Nations database.
UN Security Council resolution 2334 (2016) reaffirmed that settlements have no legal validity and constitute a flagrant violation under international law.
CPPIB 2021 investments in companies listed by the UN as complicit with Israeli war crimes include:
Airbnb Inc. (11 shares, $3M), E*, United States
Bank Hapoalim B.M, (693 shares, $7M), E*, F*, Israel
Bank Leumi Le-Israel B.M, (925 shares, $8M), E*, F*, Israel
Bezeq, the Israel Telecommunication Corp Ltd. (1541 shares, $2 M), E*, G*, Israel
Delek Group Ltd – Delek US Holding Inc., (50 shares, $1M), E*, G*, Israel & USA
Expedia Group Inc., (565 shares, $122 M), E*, United States
Israel Discount Bank Ltd., (725 shares, $4 M), E*, F*, Israel
Mizrahi Tefahot Bank Ltd. (86 shares, $3 M), E*, F*, Israel
Shufersal Ltd., (137 shares, $1 M), E*, G*, Israel
Booking Holdings Inc (123 shares, $359 M), E*, United States
Motorola Solutions Inc., (27 shares, $3M), B*, United States
In March 2021, 70+ organizations from across Canada and around the world, and 130+ individuals including former federal members of parliament Libby Davies & Jim Manly, former UN rapporteur John Dugard, Chris Hedges former NY Times bureau chief, academics, faith community leaders, labour leaders & many others demanded that Canada’s public pension divest from companies identified by the UN as supporting Israeli war crimes.
The CPP investments in the companies listed in the UN Database make up $513M of $134,226M of CPP Foreign Publicly-Traded Equity Holdings as of March 31, 2021.
Given that the aggregate investments are a very small proportion of the foreign traded portfolio, it seems it is an easy move for the CPP Investment Board to divest from companies that have been named as complicit in acts contributing to the maintenance of illegal settlements.
The CPPIB Canadian Portfolio
Based on our review of the CPP’s Canadian public equity holding, the portfolio is dominated by one company. WSP Global.
WSP Global, is a Canadian management and consulting firm that specializes in engineering projects. WSP according to Who Profits, is involved in the planning of the Israel railway system that crosses into the occupied West Bank and constitutes settlement infrastructure. The CPP investment in WSP Global is at over 21K shares with a market value that increased from March 31, 2020 of $1,683 million, to $2,583 million as of March 31, 2021.
Why has the CPPIB invested in this one Canadian firm, WSP Global, so heavily? Beyond this one that is involved in illegal settlement activities.
CPPIB needs to follow global leaders
We remind the CPPIB of the large divestments from public pensions in New Zealand and Norway earlier this year.
Norway’s $1.3 trillion sovereign wealth fund excluded Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd and Mivne Real Estate KD Ltd. for their activities associated with Israeli settlements on the West Bank. The companies were excluded based on advice from the Council on Ethics “due to unacceptable risk that the companies contribute to systematic violations of individuals’ rights in situations or war or conflict,” the fund said in a statement.
Has the CPPIB conducted a similar analysis of investments of their portfolios?
In this regard CPPIB needs as a start to divest from:
· Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. Teva is the world's largest generic drug manufacturer, and both companies are part of an oligopoly of companies who benefit from selling to the Palestinian captive market as verified by Who Profits, an Israeli research center.
· Palantir Technologies Inc. Palantir provides their Artificial Intelligence (AI) predictive system to Israeli security forces, to identify people in occupied Palestine. Palantir provides the same mass surveillance tools to law enforcement agencies and police departments, circumventing warrant procedures. In the USA, Palantir has multi-million dollar contracts with Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that aid in human rights abuses, like family separation and deportations. Read more details as verified by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) project Investigate.
There are many other companies that could be added to the list of companies, and we ask the CPPIB to undertake a full review.
CPPIB indicates it aspires to “integrate ESG factors” and acknowledges that “lack of engagement with ESG undermines long term sustainability” as well as brands and reputation “generate risk impacts beyond expected adjusted returns.”
Canadians are Concerned, but the CPPIB is silent
The CPPIB President/CAO and Board Chair have received thousands of letters during 2021 calling from them to divest from the UN listed companies and WSP; letters to which the CPPIB has not responded.
The CPPIB did indicate they were undertaking a view of these investments in March 2021, but no response with an update on this review has been provided despite the many requests from organizations and individuals.
The CPP Investment Board was established by an Act of Parliament in December 1997.
The CPIB is accountable to Parliament and to federal and also provincial ministers who serve as the CPP stewards. The CPPIB is governed and managed independently from the CPP itself, and operates at arm’s length from governments.
The accountability is ultimately to our stewards – the federal Finance Minister and the Finance Ministers of the participating provinces.
Now with the Trudeau cabinet announced, we also bring this to the attention of the Federal Minister of Finance.
We demand that CPPIB:
1.Divest immediately from:
-United Nations (UN) identified companies held by CPPIB, and ensure that no investments in the future include these UN identified companies
-Teva Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd. and Taro Pharmaceutical Industries Ltd.
- Palantir Technologies Inc.
2. Take steps to diversify the Canadian equity portfolio.
3. Review all portfolios for any other investments that are in violation of international law.
4. Put in place a transparent process to ensure that companies are vetted for violations of human rights and international law.
The concerns that we raise are also in the broader context of ethical investment related to Canada’s public pension fund investment including in mining, fossil fuels, private health care, and other issues of justice and humanitarian concern.
We ask the CPPIB to take all steps necessary to ensure that the activities of all companies included in all of its portfolio are in compliance with international law governing war crimes. We remind you that in Canada, parties that are complicit in war crimes are liable to criminal prosecution under the Crimes Against Humanity and War Crimes Act, including corporations.
 S.C. 2000, c. 24. R.S.C., 1985, c. C-46, ss. 22.1-22.2.
Given that the aggregate investments are a very small proportion (less than one percent) of the foreign traded portfolio, it seems it is an easy move for the CPP Investment Board to divest from companies that have been named as complicit in acts of military occupation and contributing to the maintenance of illegal settlements (aka “war crimes”)