NY Pension Fund Targets Sudan

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) – State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli proposed Monday to use New York's state pension fund to increase pressure on the Sudanese government to end the genocide in Darfur.

DiNapoli, as trustee of the $150 billion New York State Common Retirement Fund, said he will take several actions, including possible divestiture, to put economic leverage on Sudan to end the bloodshed that has drawn worldwide condemnation.

“The genocide in Darfur is a challenge to our collective capacity to do good,” said DiNapoli. “As citizens, we can neither be blind to this callous destruction of human life nor silent in its face.”

The first phase calls for research to determine which companies the fund may be investing in are using objectionable practices in Sudan. The second phase will be to work with those companies to get them to either withdraw from Sudan or begin taking action aimed at providing aid to the Sudanese people, said DiNapoli.

After reviewing any changes the companies make, the Democrat said he will consider divesting from companies that fail to take substantial action.

Many other states — including Connecticut, Illinois, Maine, New Jersey, Oregon, North Carolina, Colorado and Kansas — have begun divesting public pension funds from Sudan and several other states are considering comparable steps. Florida on Friday became the first state to prohibit its pension fund dollars from being invested in any companies doing business with Sudan or Iran's energy sector.

More than 200,000 people have died and 2.5 million have been displaced in the four-year conflict between ethnic African rebels and pro-government janjaweed militia. A beleaguered, 7,000-strong African Union force and a peace agreement signed between the government and one rebel group have been unable to stop the fighting.