Three Firms Excluded From Norweigian Sovereign Wealth Fund over Human Rights Violations

Mivne Real Estate, Shapir Engineering and Industry, and Honeys Holdings have been added to the list of companies excluded from Norway’s sovereign wealth fund. The fund itself is worth $1.3 billion.

According to the Norwegian central bank (Norges Bank), these companies have been excluded based on the “unacceptable risk” they represent by contributing to human rights violations on a systemic scale.

The country’s Government Pension Fund Global (GFPG) was proposing that the country’s sovereign wealth fund should invest in Mivne Real Estate and Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd. Norges Bank, which manages the fund, put a stop to the proposal.

Sovereign Wealth Fund over Human Rights Violations

The bank based its decision on both Israeli firms being engaged in “systematic violations of individuals’ rights in war and conflict related to the building of homes and buildings in Israeli settlements in the West Bank.”

Honeys Holdings is a Japanese retailer. They are also being blocked off from the sovereign wealth fund by Norges Bank “due to the unacceptable risk that the company contributes to systematic violations of human rights.” Norges Bank is likely referring to the retailer’s ownership of two garment factories based in Myanmar.

The GFPG’s Council on Ethics maintains the position that the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank is a violation of international law. The ongoing existence and expansion of these settlements harm and disenfranchise Palestinians in a severe way.

As Shapir Engineering and Industry participates by building homes in those illegal settlements the firm has been excluded from the fund.

The Council’s position also applies to Mivne Real Estate who rents out buildings that have themselves been constructed in violation of international law. The Council sees this as participation on Mivne’s part in contributing “to maintaining the unlawful condition that their construction once initiated.”

In Honey Holdings’ case, it was found that workers in the retailer’s Myanmar factories have to endure multiple labor rights violations. These violations include harassment, failure to meet fire safety code, not to mention numerous health and safety regulations.

In addition, underage workers have been employed as adults, employees that use sick leave have been financially penalized, and trade union leaders have been dismissed. These are still not all the violations Honey Holdings has perpetrated.