How to Divest

The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) has a long history of engagement in divestment campaigns and in responsible investment actions for peace and civil rights issues worldwide, including corporate accountability campaigns in the anti-apartheid movement, farm workers rights campaigns, the movement for nuclear disarmament, peace and anti-militarism campaigns, and struggles against mass incarceration and for the rights of immigrants.

As an investor, the AFSC invests only in companies providing goods and services which people and peacetime industry need for everyday life. It refrains from investment in the military industries, major defense contractors, nuclear power, prisons, fossil fuels, land speculation, and certain products such as alcohol or tobacco.

The Economic Activism Program provides organizers and investors with tools and training for campaigns that face corporate power, expose corporate complicity in state violence and violations of human rights, help corporations move away from such harmful practices, and support the creation of public and transparent standards for corporate behavior.

Divestment is an act of tracing our own financial links to war, oppression, and exploitation, to use them as leverage to expose, isolate, and withdraw from these harmful social structures.

On Investigate, we offer information and recommendations to support divestment from the militarization of borders, from military occupations, and from the incarceration and detention industries. Each of these topics is a priority issue for AFSC’s long standing work where we have detected a lack of available information about the roles and involvement of corporations. We urge all companies listed on our database to divest from these harmful activities, and we hope that their consumers, investors, and business partners will use this information to demand that the mentioned companies make that transition, and help them in this process.

Our Divestment Recommendation and Criteria

The Investigate database is two-tiered - from our general list of companies, some are highlighted as targets for divestment. This recommendation is based on an assessment of each company’s involvement in the specific human rights violation, the significance of the company’s involvement, how continuous it has been, and how responsive the company has been to public and investor concerns on the matter.

Our assessment criteria include:

  • Salience - the severity of the human rights violation and how harmful it is. Based on the UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights Reporting Framework, it measures the severity of the negative impact of a company’s activities and/or business relationships. Salience does not measure the extent of the company’s stake in the said violation, nor its impact on the company’s revenue, only the degree to which this violation is harmful to people.
  • Responsibility - the degree of the company’s involvement in the human rights violation. It is assessed on a case by case basis and includes both the significance of the company’s activities to the continued human rights violation and the significance of that relationship to the company itself. For example, supplying custom-made crucial equipment or services would constitute a significant involvement, unlike the supply of off-the-shelf products.
  • Responsiveness - the company’s responsiveness to multi-stakeholder engagement as well as the continuity of its involvement in the harmful activities. All companies listed on Investigate have a full knowledge of the impact of their actions. Their responsiveness is assessed by monitoring the dialogue efforts with the company on these issues as well as all changes in corporate policies or activities.

We advocate divestment from all forms of state violence. Investigate focuses on three such institutions: border militarization, military occupations, and the prison industry. Different stakeholders in the companies listed on our database may choose to use different strategies to help companies divest and withdraw from these activities: they may engage with the companies, shame them, work with them to create better due diligence mechanisms and human rights policies, put consumer pressure on them, file shareholder resolutions, or dump their stocks.

Specifically for responsible investors, we recommend they refrain from owning stocks or bonds of the companies we have highlighted as “recommended for divestment.” Based on the three criteria listed above, these companies were ruled as consistently and knowingly involved in particularly harmful violations, in a significant way, and as unresponsive to stakeholder engagement. According to our assessment, these companies would not respond to shareholder activism on these issues at this time, which makes the ownership of these securities a moral liability. Adding these names to a widely-accepted human rights screen helps develop clear standards for corporate respect for human rights for other companies in the same industries, and in some cases pushes companies to become more responsive.

Once exposed and confronted with the potential controversy, reputational, and regulatory risks, many large companies respond to engagement efforts by stakeholders, try to present a human rights policy, or even step away from additional controversial activities.

Our database is regularly updated based on changes in companies’ operations and responsiveness. Between 2011-2017, we removed almost a dozen companies from our database, and we hope that our database continues to shrink.

Our divestment list is neither a “black list” nor a boycott list. We use it to advocate for a specific course of action, and we recognize that different stakeholders might have different opportunities to help promote the same goals. Please contact us if you need assistance in tailoring specific screening recommendations for different investors, asset managers, or investment consultants.

Divestment from the Prison Industry

We hope that the research presented in this publication will help investors refrain from any investment in the prison industry, unless they intend to use it for corporate engagement and shareholder activism to help companies change their policies and transition out of this industry.

The American Friends Service Committee does not invest in any company that owns, operates, or manages prisons, regardless of the size of that business or its centrality to the core activities of the company. Additionally, we avoid investments in companies whose primary business involves the design or construction of prisons.

Our Prison section profiles the main companies involved in ongoing human rights violations as part of the incarceration industry. Among those companies, we recommend divestment from:

  • Companies that own, operate, or manage incarceration facilities anywhere around the world.
  • Companies whose primary business is in the prison industry.
  • Other companies with significant involvement in this industry, that prove to be unresponsive to public and investor pressure.

This list is continuously reviewed and adjusted based on these companies’ operations and responsiveness.

Divestment from the Occupation Industry

The American Friends Service Committee has worked with Palestinians and Israelis for peace and justice for over 70 years. Our investment policy excludes companies that provide products or services, including financial services, to Israeli or Palestinian military bodies that are used to facilitate or undertake violent acts against civilians or violations of international law, or to Israeli or Palestinian organizations or groups that are used to facilitate or undertake violent acts against civilians or violations of international law.  

AFSC’s investment policy responds to human rights violations by both sides, but the Investigate database focuses only on corporate involvement in Israeli violations. This asymmetry is a consequence of the inherent asymmetry of this conflict: the provision of any form of support to a Palestinian armed group or political party is illegal under US anti-terrorism laws. In other words, existing legal structures enforce strict sanctions and already prevent meaningful involvement of public corporations in Palestinian violations.

Over the last several years, several large corporations were taken off our divestment list or altogether from the Investigate database, after they have changed their activities on the ground. This includes, for example, CRH, SodaStream, Veolia Environnement, HP Inc., Orange, preceded by Unilever, Assa Abloy, and the privately owned companies Keter Plastic and Barkan Wineries. Other companies, which have changed or announced an upcoming change in their West Bank business operations, remain under close observation: G4S, Caterpillar, Cemex, and Fosun International.

View our divestment list

A US healthcare company. Provides community corrections including residential re-entry programs. Has detained small numbers of unaccompanied immigrant youth.

An Irish consulting and professional services firm. Manages hiring process for US Customs and Border Protection Services (CBP) and provides operational support for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

One of the largest construction and real estate companies in Israel. Has been involved in multiple construction projects in illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

A French multinational power and transportation company. Involved in the Jerusalem light rail project, which is partially built in occupied East Jerusalem.

A food service, facilities, and uniform services company. Provides food services to prisons.

A private prison company, owned by CoreCivic. Owns and manages private halfway houses in Oklahoma, Texas, and Wyoming.

A British multinational defense and aerospace manufacturer that develops weapons and combat vehicles for ground, air, and naval warfare, specializing in the design of avionic electronic warfare systems. BAE has worked in cooperation with Lockheed Martin and Rafael to produce and market the naval Protector drone used to maintain the siege of Gaza along the Mediterranean coast.

One of Israel's largest banks. Financed the construction of housing projects and has branches in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

One of Israel's largest banks. Financed the construction of housing projects and has branches in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights.

Israel's largest telecommunications company. Has infrastructure throughout the occupied Palestinian territory and Golan Heights. Services all illegal settlements as well as military bases and checkpoints.

One of the largest military companies in the world. Makes fighter jets and missile systems used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians. Designed a system to surveil and monitor the US-Mexico border.

A US multinational manufacturer of heavy engineering machinery. Its equipment is customized for the use of the needs of the Israeli military occupation and is used in home demolitions, the construction of the West Bank and Gaza walls, and the construction of illegal settlements.

Israel's largest provider of cellular phone services. Has hundreds of antennas and other communications facilities in the occupied Palestinian territory and Golan Heights. Provides telecommunication services to multiple illegal settlements and military bases.

A Mexican multinational manufacturer and distributor of cement, concrete, and other construction materials. Has factories in the occupied West Bank and Golan Heights. Its materials has been used to build multiple military checkpoints and illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

The world’s largest private prison corporation. Owns and manages over 100 correctional, detention, and other residential reentry facilities. Provides the government with other services as part of the criminal punishment system.

A US multinational IT company, born as the merger of CSC with a division of Hewlett Packard Enterprise. Operates the Israeli discriminatory population registry. Has a R&D center in an illegal settlement in the occupied West Bank.

Israel's largest weapon company. Makes killer drones, large weapon systems, and ammunition used against civilians. Monitors walls and borders in Palestine and the US-Mexico border.

A Spanish multinational infrastructure company. Its subsidiary Broadspectrum operates a prison in Australia.

A major Israeli bank. Financed the construction of housing projects in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Has branches in settlements.

A Chinese multinational conglomerate with real estate, healthcare, tourism, insurance, wealth management, and manufacturing businesses. Its cosmetics subsidiary AHAVA excavates minerals and operates a visitor center in the occupied West Bank.

The world's largest private security company. Owns private prisons in Australia, South Africa, UK. Provides governments with multiple other punishment-related services. Operates the Israeli National Police Academy.

One of the largest military contractors in the world. Provides weapons and munitions used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians. Involved in monitoring the US-Mexico border and surveilling immigrant communities inside the United States.

A US multinational conglomerate in the manufacturing, energy, and healthcare industries, among others. Its aviation division manufactures engines for military aircraft Israel uses against civilians.

A US multinational oil & gas company. Extracts oil in the occupied Golan Heights.

A US construction company. Constructed and performs maintenance on the US-Mexico border fence.

The world's largest cement producer and a leader in the production of aggregates. Operates quarries and manufacturing facilities in the occupied West Bank. Its products have been used to build and expand illegal settlements.

A US multinational high tech company, previously part of defunct Hewlett-Packard Company. Provides equipment to the discriminatory Israeli population registry and prison system.

One of Israel's largest banks. Financed the construction of housing projects in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Has branches in illegal settlements.

A US engineering and construction company. Does maintenance and repairs of the US-Mexico border fence in Arizona.

One of the world’s largest military contractors. Supplies equipment for military checkpoints in occupied Palestine and for surveillance of the US-Mexico border and immigrant communities in the US.

A US defense and aerospace company that makes fighter jets, attack helicopters, and missile systems used by the Israeli military against Palestinian civilians. Its reconnaissance aircrafts monitor the US-Mexico border.

An Israeli company specializing in high tech security systems for fences and walls. Its systems are installed in the West Bank and Gaza walls.

Mitie Group is a British facility management, consultancy, and product management company that operates private prison facilities and immigrant detention centers in the United Kingdom.

A major Israeli bank. Financed the construction of multiple illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Has branches in illegal settlements. Discriminates against Palestinian citizens of Israel.

A US data and telecommunications equipment manufacturer. Its equipment is installed in illegal settlements and the separation wall in the occupied West bank, and it is used by the Israeli military, police, and prison service.

A major Israeli bank specializing in credit for local municipalities. Financed the construction of public projects in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory. Has branches in settlements.

One of the largest military company in the world. Develops missile systems consistently used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians; provides drones and radars used to monitor the US-Mexico border; and develops databases and systems for Homeland Security to profile, surveil and monitor immigrant communities.

One of the largest military companies in the world and the largest producer of guided missiles. Makes missile systems and munitions used against civilians in Palestine and Yemen. Its equipment is used to monitor the US-Mexico border.

A British multinational public services company. Operates private prison and detention centers in the UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

An Israeli infrastructure and construction company. Builds infrastructure and residential projects in multiple illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank and has a factory a factory in a settlement. Involved in building military checkpoints and the Gaza wall.

A French multinational food services and facilities management company. Operates prisons in Australia and the UK.

A US workforce housing company that owns and partially operates ICE’s largest youth and family detention center.

The world's 2nd largest private prison company and the largest "community corrections" and e-carceration business. Owns and operates prisons and immigrant detention centers in the US and abroad. Provides the government with other services as part of the criminal punishment system.

A Canadian electronic content and information services provider. Provides its information and database service to the US government to be used for tracking and targeting immigrants and their communities.

A US provider of high-tech systems, products, and services to the aerospace and commercial building industries. Its subsidiary Pratt & Whitney produces the engines for military aircraft used by the Israeli air force against Palestinian civilians.