New Zealand’s national pension fund invests in Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients – which both import phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara. That does not align with its statutory obligation to safeguard the country’s reputation, Polisario official says.
Read up on New Zealand's imports of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara in our latest edition of the 'P for Plunder' report, published on 24 February 2020. The report documents Morocco's exports of Saharawi phosphate rock in 2019. While the exports have never been lower than in 2019, a third of the trade went to New Zealand's farmer cooperatives Ravensdown and Ballance Agri-Nutrients.Today, 5 March 2020, the UN-recognised representative of the Saharawi people has initiated legal proceedings against the New Zealand Superannuation Fund, the Government Pension Fund of the country. The Fund, which has an estimated value of over $44.5 billion, is an investor of both Ravensdown Ltd and Ballance Agri-Nutrients Ltd: two farmer cooperatives that are among the last few remaining importers of phosphate rock from occupied Western Sahara.
The Fund is managed and administered by a Crown Entity, called the Guardians of the New Zealand Superannuation Fund. The Guardians of the Fund have a statutory obligation to manage and administer the Fund in a manner consistent with avoiding prejudice to New Zealand’s reputation as a responsible member of the world community.
According to Polisario’s representative to Australia and New Zealand, Mr. Kamal Fadel, the Fund is not living up to that obligation through its investments in Ravensdown and Ballance. “The Sahrawi people are determined to protect their natural resources with all available means. This legal action is a message to all who are involved in the exploitation of Sahrawi natural resources that they face legal action, reputational risks and investor withdrawal,” Mr. Fadel says.
Over the last decade, several national pension funds from across the world have proceeded to exclude companies that are involved in the trade of resources from Western Sahara for ethical reasons. These include the Norwegian Government Pension Fund, the AP Funds in Sweden, APG in the Netherlands and the UK’s National Employment Savings Trust.
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Morocco occupies the major part of its neighbouring country, Western Sahara. Entering into business deals with Moroccan companies or authorities in the occupied territories gives an impression of political legitimacy to the occupation. It also gives job opportunities to Moroccan settlers and income to the Moroccan government. Western Sahara Resource Watch demands foreign companies leave Western Sahara until a solution to the conflict is found.
It's not easy keeping up with all the different legal proceedings relating to Western Sahara. For the sake of clarity, here's an overview of the five different cases at the Court of Justice of the European Union.