Statement of Divestment from Companies Supporting Violations of Human Rights
in the U.S./Mexico and Israel/Palestine Borderlands
28 March 2011
The University of Arizona chapter of No Más Muertes/No More Deaths (NMM), is an officially-recognized student group and affiliate of the humanitarian/migrant-rights organization of the same name, devoted to helping end death and suffering in the US/Mexico borderlands by civil initiative: the conviction that people of conscience must work openly and in community to uphold fundamental human rights.
One of the main themes of No More Deaths’ principles of action is global movement building -- visibly linking similar systems of oppression and building solidarity alliances with people’s attempts to end them across oceans and borders, with special attention to our governments’ roles in funding and supporting such systems on an international scale.
As students, faculty, staff and supporters of the University of Arizona (UA) community, we unequivocally oppose UA business relations with companies which provide military-style technology and infrastructure used to carry out systematic human-rights violations in the U.S./Mexico borderlands by U.S. police and military forces. And with those companies providing such support for U.S.-backed crimes by Israel in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt)—including all illegal settlement activity—and during past and possible future invasions of Lebanon. Our opposition is directed towards multinational corporations (especially those that are U.S.-based), and is particularly focused on those companies which are supporting violations of human rights in both areas.
According to the University’s “Policy on Corporate Relations”:
“It is the intent of this policy that all agreements entered into by the University of Arizona result in the enhancement of the primary mission and purpose of the University [i.e. to "improve the human condition" and "enrich communities around the state and around the world."]…In order for the institution to remain a symbol of the quest for truth and knowledge, it must preserve its reputation as one of absolute integrity and avoid affiliations that may tarnish its image in the public eye. The name of the University should never be used to endorse any products or corporations whose products are instruments of destruction or known to cause harm to humans [emphasis added].
Two corporations with business relations with the UA - Caterpillar and Motorola - remain in direct contravention with stated policy, as is documented in the public record, and with continuing full knowledge on the part of UA administration.
The University of Arizona’s participation in ongoing crimes—from the U.S./Mexico to Palestine/Israel borderlands—is indefensible and must end immediately. We call for full and unconditional divestment from these corporations, namely Caterpillar and Motorola, until they comply with international law. We also call for the establishment of an investment/business screen in order to prevent associations with companies found to be involved in similar activities in the US/Mexico borderlands or occupied Palestinian territories, concurrently or in the future.
We as individuals and as a community are responsible for the real and likely consequences of our actions, or our failure to act. We observe in horror the harsh repression, violence, and other violations of human rights being carried out by the U.S. and Israel in both areas. Our responsibility is to act, to encourage the initiative of others, and to mobilize public opinion to bring about a change in U.S. policies entailing mass death and suffering in these torn borderlands.
We call on all state and public entities, beginning with our University of Arizona community, to terminate business relations with all companies operating in either (or both) crisis/conflict zones until and unless they comply with basic standards of international law. This approach models itself on a rich history of U.S. boycott, divestment and sanctions movements for social justice - often spearheaded by students and young people - including the international civil movements to end Israeli occupation of Palestine, and recent struggles to divest from South African apartheid (which many former South African leaders have remarked was a major turning point in their regime’s ability to sustain and legitimate itself).
CONCLUDING CALL TO ACTION
Some of us and our predecessor students have in recent memory waged successful activist campaigns of economic leverage (including divestment) against Russell Athletic/Fruit of the Loom (2009) and Nike (1999-2000). In the case of Russell the UA stated, after divesting from its $500,000 contract with the company, that it would "continue to work" with appropriate labor and human-rights-monitoring bodies "to hold corporations accountable in supporting" international humanitarian and human-rights standards.
As people of conscience with direct ties to the University, we intend to hold ourselves and our institution accountable to UA standards, values and practices.
As Chican@, Palestinian, Jewish and other allied American youth and children of (im)migrants and indigenous peoples, directly and indirectly impacted by U.S.-Israeli internationalized policies of repression, racism, harsh violence, and militarization enabled and funded by U.S. aid and consumption, we hereby internationalize our resistance and solidarity, from Arizona to Palestine, in the name of human rights, culture, justice and dignity.
 UA Mission. Online. Accessible: http://www.arizona.edu/home/aboutua.php.
 UA Policy on Corporate Relations: Online. Accessible: http://web.arizona.edu/~policy/corp-rel.shtml
 For details of Caterpillar’s associations with the UofA, see, among other articles,: Gabriel Matthew Schivone, “Killer, Killer, Caterpillar,” Wildcat, 28 January 2010; “Caterpillar donates $100,000 to UA Mining and Geological Engineering,” UA News, 17 April 2006; For Motorola, see: “Human rights violations,” Wildcat, 15 February 2010.
 For specific and comprehensive human rights reports (2002-present) on Caterpillar’s complicity in Israel’s human rights violations of Palestinian lands and people under occupation, see: B’Tselem Report, “Policy of Destruction: House Demolition and Destruction of Agricultural Land in the Gaza Strip,” February 2002; Human Rights Watch Report, “Razing Rafah,” 17 October 2004; “Breaking the Silence: Soldiers’ Testimony from Operation Cast Lead, Gaza,” Breaking the Silence, 15 July 2009 (page 26); Human Rights Watch Report, “Israel: Caterpillar Should Suspend Bulldozer Sales,” 21 November 2004; Report on the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, UN Human Rights Council, 15 September 2009 (pg. 279, 540); Edith Garwood, “Caterpillar Inc’s Role in Human Rights Violations in the Occupied Palestinian Territories,” 23 December 2010. Online. Accessible: http://blog.amnestyusa.org/business/caterpillar-incs-role-in-human-rights-violations-in-the-occupied-palestinian-territories; For Caterpillar’s involvement in the construction of the border wall — part of U.S.-imposed militarization of the U.S./Mexico border contributing to migrant deaths in the desert — see Maurice Sherif’s work: “The U.S. Government said it plans to build 70 miles of 16-foot-tall (5 meter) Wall in southern Texas,” Thursday 11 March 2010; For Motorola’s involvement with U.S./Mexico border militarization and Israel’s occupation, see: Motorola, Inc., official website; Wikipedia article, “U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement,” Section 8; ; Research provided by the D.C.-based advocacy group US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation; Human Rights Watch report, “Remote Control Death,” 20 March 2009; Research and divestment recommendations provided by a report by New England Conference of the United Methodist Church Divestment Task Force; Research section “Motorola-Israel,” provided by Who Profits/Israeli Coalition of Women for Peace; “UA to Co-Lead DHS Center for Border Security and Immigration,” UA News, 26 February 2008. Online. Accessible: http://uanews.org/node/18515
 "Russell's Reign Officially Comes to an End," Wildcat, 20 October 2009. Online. Accessible: http://wildcat.arizona.edu/news/russell-s-reign-officially-comes-to-an-end-1.792933#5
U.S./Mexico and Israel/Palestine Borderlands
28 March 2011