Barrick Gold’s violence highlights need for ethical investment

The Green Party has long advocated for ethical investment by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund.  Several companies, in which the Super Fund invests, have been accused of human rights violations, the production of nuclear arms, and causing severe environmental damage.

One such company was Barrick Gold– a Canadian mining company which has caused environmental damage and committed human rights abuses around the world.  In 2009, 2010, and 2011, the Green Party called out the National Government on the Super Fund’s investment in such ethically questionable companies.  Finally in March 2013, the Super Fund excluded Barrick.

Now, an MP in Papua New Guinea has accused Barrick Gold of ordering the destruction of homes in the village of Wingima.  Barrick has been accused of ordering the raid to avoid addressing long standing tensions in the area.  Landowners affected by Barrick’s mine’s operations have long been asking to be resettled away from the area by the company and to be compensated. It is said Barrick ordered the raid, by police, to avoid doing so.

We applaud the Super Fund’s divestment from companies like Barrick Gold who continue to use force and intimidation to run their business, pollute the environment, and destroy the aspirations of those living around the mines to live well. But there is still so much more work to do here.

Continued investment by Super Fund, in companies such as Rio Tinto and Vedanta Resources– two more global mining companies– must be stopped. There has been a long practice of these companies engaging in human rights violations and environmental pollution and, unless they are challenged on their unethical practices, they will continue to operate with impunity.  Divesting is one of the first and most important steps in challenging rogue companies.

Unethical investments also damage New Zealand’s reputation as a promoter of human rights and environmental champion, and also are in contravention to the Super Fund’s own obligations as a signatory to the UN’s ethical investment principles.