Over the past month, JPMorgan Chase has come under fire for their now-publicized opposition to a shareholder proposal asking the company to avoid companies tied to genocide. Specifically, JPMorgan owns over a billion dollars worth of PetroChina, the publicly-traded arm of China National Petroleum Company, which has been widely recognized and condemned for helping finance genocide in Sudan. According to CNN, “Though JPMorgan’s investment in PetroChina is legal, citizen-led nonprofit Investors Against Genocide says it “works against the spirit” of the U.S. government’s economic sanctions on Sudan.” It also works against the UN Global Compact, “a strategic policy initiative for businesses that are committed to aligning their operations and strategies with ten universally accepted principles in the areas of human rightslabourenvironment and anti-corruption.” The principles which fall under the heading of human rights are: 1. Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights; and 2. make sure they are not complicit in human rights abuses.

In addition to the Global Compact, which was launched in 2000, JPMorgan is also acting in violation of the UN “Protect, Respect and Remedy” Framework which was endorsed by the Human Rights Council in 2008 and “provides useful guidance on the scope of human rights responsibilities for both governments and companies. Following an extension of his mandate to provide guidance on the operationalisation of the Framework, [Special Representative John Ruggie] issued the “Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights: Implementing the United Nations ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ Framework” which the Human Rights Council endorsed in June 2011.” The Framework is based on three pillars:

  1. The State duty to protect against human rights violations by third parties, including business.
  2. The corporate responsibility to respect human rights.
  3. Access to remedies.
Last year, less than 8% of JPMorgan shareholders voted in support of Investors Against Genocide’s proposal. This year’s outcome won’t be revealed until JPMorgan’s shareholder meeting next Tuesday.
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