Statement on the Israel-Hamas Conflict, International Humanitarian Law, and Investor Responsibility

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November 4, 2023

– Investor Advocates for Social Justice

As Investor Advocates for Social Justice (IASJ), we remain unwavering in our dedication to promoting peace, justice, and responsible investment. Our identity is firmly rooted in the rich soil of our history, where our predecessors, the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment (Tri-CRI), set a precedent for social action in confronting apartheid South Africa. This legacy propels us forward, not only in addressing the complexities of the Israel-Hamas conflict but also in recognizing similar imperatives in other regions of the world, such as the Sudan, Ukraine, Yemen, the Uyghur Region of China, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to name a few. 

Amidst the tumultuous struggle of conflicts, we are guided by principles that reflect both the wisdom of human rights leaders such as Nelson Mandela, profound insights from the Interfaith Responsible Investing community, guidance from Pope Francis’ Laudato Si and Laudate Deum, the broader International human rights legal community, and the example of service, community, and advocacy of Women Religious. Although we advocate for a world without violence and armed conflict, we recognize that International Humanitarian Law (IHL) governs armed conflict, demanding impartiality in its application, and the protection it affords to innocent civilians. We remain unwavering in our dedication to promoting peace, justice, and responsible investment. 

Both Hamas and the government of Israel are the warring parties, the bearers of arms in this conflict, and must be subject to the rules of IHL without prejudice. The Palestinian and Israeli people, save those directly involved in hostilities, are civilians deserving of the significant protections that IHL provides. We are deeply troubled by the allegations implicating both parties in actions that could be categorized as violations of IHL, potentially amounting to war crimes. These violations, irrespective of their perpetrators, must be unequivocally condemned.

Beyond the confines of IHL, we must also address the grave concern of apartheid. The system that Israel has been accused of maintaining in the Occupied Palestinian Territory since at least 1967 falls under the purview of international human rights law, which defines apartheid as a crime against humanity. It is crucial to delineate that while occupation leads to the applicability of IHL, the alleged crime of apartheid exists independently as a severe human rights violation.

We take an unequivocal stance: the reasons for Hamas’ attacks on Israeli civilians are immaterial under IHL. Such actions are violations of IHL. By the same tenet, the actions of the Israeli State that may constitute apartheid and violations of IHL cannot be excused. We stand firm in condemning violence and breaches of international law.

In our capacity as investors, we have the obligation and the power to enact change. We can hold our portfolio companies to account for their involvement, whether direct or indirect, in perpetuating these conflicts or benefiting from them. Financial complicity in human rights abuses or in actions that contravene IHL is unacceptable.

Our advocacy for a peaceful resolution is staunch. We advocate for the cessation of hostilities and for addressing the underlying issues of occupation and apartheid. We stand in solidarity with the Palestinian people in their struggle for dignity and self-determination, and we do so without condoning the actions of Hamas. We empathize deeply with the Jewish community, especially for the violence endured and the pain of hostages taken, and simultaneously, we do not endorse the actions of the Israeli State.

We implore the international community, our fellow investors, and our portfolio companies to join us in this advocacy for peace, the upholding of international law, and the cessation of all forms of oppression and violence. Let us invest not merely in capital, but in humanity; not just in profit, but in peace. As we navigate these complex waters, may our moral compass be as unerring as the words of Toni Morrison: “The function of freedom is to free someone else,” and may our actions be as bold as the calls of Pope Francis for bridges of dialogue and understanding.

To learn more about International Humanitarian Law please check out these links for more context into International Humanitarian Law – Please fast forward to the 12:00 min mark of this segment.