On Tuesday, April 12, 2005 the Teaching Assistants Association (TAA) of UW-Madison debated a resolution calling on the UW to divest from companies doing business with the Israeli military. Discussion of this issue had been tabled at the March general meeting when members voted to hold an additional information session on the divestment issue (held on April 5th and attended by 50 people). The proposed resolution had been submitted through the efforts of the University of Wisconsin Divestment Campaign.
The original motion was brought up for reconsideration and was discussed for approximately 45 minutes of debate. Two amendments to the original motion were made, both of which were adopted after considerable debate. The first amendment removed all specific references to the Israeli-Palestine conflict, and called on the UW to divest from all military contracts. The second amendment reinserted the names of specific military contractors known to provide material to many governments around the globe, including those which had been targeted for their role in supplying weaponry to the Israeli military. Once the references to Israel were removed, the amended motion passed by a large margin. The full text of the resolution as finally adopted:
WHEREAS, American principles, values, and traditions emphasize the right of the individuals to basic freedoms without regard to ethnic origin or religious affiliation and support the protections and extension of these freedoms to all peoples around the globe, and where the systematic denial of these freedoms prompted the University of Wisconsin System to affirm its commitment to socially responsible investment by divesting its holding in the Apartheid era South Africa, in accordance with investment policy 78-1;
WHEREAS, independent human rights organizations have documented serious and widespread violations of international law and human rights around the globe;
WHEREAS, there is irrefutable evidence that U.S.-based companies in which the University of Wisconsin is invested provide material aid to military associations around the globe in the form of weapons, equipment, and supporting systems used to perpetrate human rights abuses against innocent civilians, and where knowingly continuing this support implicates these companies in practices that violate international humanitarian law;
WHEREAS, in so far as the effort to divest from these companies has as its foundation a commitment to international law and the fundamental rights that belong to every human being, it lays the groundwork for a just and enduring peace and is therefore an expression of the hope for a free and secure future for all peoples around the globe;
WHEREAS, the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, 22 USC sec. 2304, provides that “no security assistance may be provided to any country the government of which engages in a consistent pattern of gross violations of internationally recognized human rights”;
WHEREAS, University of Wisconsin System Regent Trust and Fund Policy 78-01 provides that “[i]n accordance with Sec. 36.29(1) Wisc. Stats., all investments ‘made in any company, corporation, subsidiary or affiliate which practices or condones through its actions discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, creed, or sex. . .’ shall be divested in as prudent but rapid a manner as possible”;
WHEREAS, University of Wisconsin System Regent Trust and Fund Policy 97-1 (Investment and Social Responsibility) provides that “the Board acknowledges the importance of maintaining an awareness of public concerns about corporate policies or practices that are discriminatory (as defined by 36.29(1) Wis. Stats.) or cause substantial social injury, and (that) it will take this factor into account”;
BE IT RESOLVED that the Teaching Assistants’ Association of the University of Wisconsin calls upon the University of Wisconsin Board of Regents to divest from U.S.-based companies in which the University of Wisconsin is invested that provide material aid to military associations around the globe in the form of weapons, equipment, and supporting systems used to perpetrate human rights abuses against innocent civilians, and where knowingly continuing this support implicates these companies in practices that violate international humanitarian law, which companies include, but are not limited to, Bell Textron, Boeing, Caterpillar, General Dynamics, General Electric, Hughes, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Oshkosh Truck Corporation, Raytheon, and United Technologies (and its subsidiary Sikorsky Aircraft Corporation);
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that the Teaching Assistants’ Association of the University of Wisconsin urges all University of Wisconsin System governing bodies to adopt similar resolutions aimed at ensuring the implementation of University of Wisconsin System investment policies and by extension upholding international law and safeguarding the human rights of all peoples.