Strathclyde Pension Fund continues to invest in complicit companies – campaigners highlight “deeply flawed” engagement process

Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign sent the following letter to members of the Strathclyde Pension Fund Committee in December, but have not received a response three months on. A Scottish PSC spokesperson has said that this particular case has demonstrated Strathclyde Pension Fund’s “deeply flawed” ethnical investment policy and engagement process.

Scottish PSC: “It is also concerning that the Pension Committee appears to be treating with contempt the concerns of pension fund members and stakeholders who have been highlighting the complicity of DXC Technology / HP Enterprise in Israel’s illegal occupation and violations of Palestinian rights.”

On the agenda of the next Pension Committee meeting on (6 March) is the report titled “Responsible Investment – Activity to 31st December 2018” whose purpose is to “advise the committee of activity during the quarter in respect of the Fund’s responsible investment policy” does not even mention DXC/HPE despite the thousands of letters received by Councillors about the matter over the last couple of years and the GES report, commissioned by Strathclyde Pension Fund, on these companies last year which included a commitment to ongoing engagement.

Scottish PSC letter to Pensions Committee members:

The Convenor of the SPF Committee is Cllr Allan Gow,

Sent: 03 December 2018
Subject: SPF investments in HP Enterprise and DXC Technology
Importance: High

I am writing on behalf of Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign, in your capacity as a member of the Strathclyde Pension Fund (SPF) Committee.  Please find below our response to the summary report by Global Engagement Services (GES), SPF’s engagement partner, on HP Enterprise (HPE) and DXC Technology (DXC) (available here).

We are very pleased that, on the Pension Board’s request, SPF commissioned a full report of the involvement of these two companies.  The Board’s initiative follows a public campaign calling on SPF to investigate the activities of these companies in Israel’s occupation of Palestinian territories and abuses of Palestinian rights; and ultimately to divest itself of holdings of these companies.

However, we find the following conclusion of the GES report to be baffling and inconsistent with the evidence available regarding HPE / DXC activities, acknowledged by GES, and raises more questions than it answers. 

“GES has not identified an explicit violation of international human rights and humanitarian law as defined under the scope of the GES position paper on the OPT.”

1.     GES has confirmed that “our research has revealed a lack of information in significant areas of activity, including some that initially seemed to have been resolved. In particular, GES recommends ongoing monitoring of the Basel system, the construction tracking system and the military.”  How is it possible for GES to come to such a firm conclusion when it appears they lack key information

2.     According to Who Profits and the American Society of Friends Committee – sources used by the GES in this report – HPE and DXC continue to be involved in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestinian territories in the following areas:

  • Israeli Population Registry (DXC and HPE)
  • Services to Settlements (DXC)
  • Facilitating Home Demolitions (DXC)
  • Services and Technologies to the Israeli Military, Police and Prison System (HPE)

3.     It is clear that some areas require further investigation.  However, given Hewlett Packard’s previously long-standing involvement in providing services to Israel, we believe the investigation should be pursued as a matter of priority and that GES’s conclusion is premature.

4.     There are several areas where DXC / HPE activities are not in doubt:

  • HPE continues to provide the Itanium servers for the Aviv System
  • DXC continues to be under contract for the manufacturing of biometric IDs
  • DXC is establishing a system to assist the Civil Administration in tracking Palestinian construction on Palestinian land, considered unauthorised by Israel, the occupying power

5.     There is no question, however, that DXC continues to operate a research and development centre in Beitar Illit, an illegal settlement according to international law.  In response, GES maintains that:

“…the operation of a R&D centre has not been a strong enough link to the direct facilitation of illegal settlements, focusing instead on activities more closely connected to the expansion, such as natural resources extractors, mortgage lenders, providers of construction materials, construction firms, etc.”

The GES position is in direct opposition to bodies such as Human Rights Watch and the UN Human Rights Council.

The UN Human Rights Council is in the process of establishing a database of companies involved in Israeli’s illegal occupation.  Their report found that “business enterprises had directly and indirectly enabled, facilitated and profited from the construction and growth of the settlements”.  The UNHRC also provided a list of activities that raised particular human rights violations concerns.  The list includes the:

  • provision of services and utilities supporting the maintenance and existence of settlements, including transport;
  • use of natural resources, in particular water and land, for business purposes.

The Human Rights Watch case studies show how settlement businesses are integral to the abusive settlement system because they:

  • help make settlements sustainable by providing services and employment to settlers and paying taxes to settlement municipalities;
  • depend on and contribute to the unlawful confiscation of Palestinian land and resources by financing, developing, and marketing settlement homes; and
  • are inextricably linked to and benefit from Israel’s discriminatory policies that encourage settlements and harshly restrict Palestinians, such as privileged access to Israeli-issued construction permits and licenses to extract natural resources that should be used only for the benefit of the Palestinian population of the occupied territory.

In light of the above, we ask that the:

  • SPF Pension Committee instructs GES to retract their concluding statement
  • full report of the GES investigation is shared with us
  • GES Position Paper on the Occupied Palestinian Territories is shared with us
  • SPF Pension Committee clarifies its own position with regard to the evidence on the involvement of HPE and DXC in Israel’s illegal occupation and human rights abuses, including a clear statement on the DXC centre in Beitar Illit

We note that within the papers of the 5th September meeting, which also contains the GES summary report, that SPF has adopted the UN Principles for Responsible Investment as its investment policy (available here).  We ask that you will therefore take into account the work that the UN is doing to hold companies to account when they are contributing to the ongoing violations of international law and of Palestinian rights.

Please do not hesitate to contact me if you require any further information. 

I look forward to your reply.


Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign

Further sources: