Amid the protests on college campuses nationwide around the ongoing and tragic situation in Israel and Gaza have come calls for divestment in Israel, reminiscent of similar demands made in years past with regard to South African apartheid and fossil fuels. As responsible investors committed to a just and sustainable world for all, we at United Church Funds (UCF) want to share our response to these calls and how we approach divestment as a tool of responsible investing.

UCF is a financial ministry of the United Church of Christ and affirms General Synod resolutions on conflict and war, namely the Declaration for a Just Peace between Palestine and Israel (2021) and the Resolution on Direct Investment in Weapons Producers (1983). UCF is fully committed to the principles of non-violence and a just peace, and as a responsible investor, UCF adheres to a longstanding policy that does not seek to profit from war and military weapons. We uphold that policy by diligently monitoring all our funds’ holdings to ensure that our clients’ investment portfolios are not profiting from war and violence in any region of the world, including Israel/Palestine.

UCF also restricts investment in companies that cause or contribute to violations of human rights – and have failed to take meaningful steps to prevent or mitigate these violations. “All of our assessments and actions are based on extensive research,” explained Matthew Illian, UCF’s Director of Responsibility. “We look at conflict zones, value chain partners and business activities that violate human rights or do not comply with domestic and international laws. We also adhere to international normative frameworks, such as the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Conventions and the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.”

While UCF supports collective action, including protests for a more just world, UCF is alarmed by the expressions of anti-Semitism and Islamophobia that have broken out in some places. Charles Buck, UCF President & CEO, said, “UCF’s vision of a just and sustainable world for all signifies not just a mere aspiration but a profound commitment to creating a world where every individual thrives harmoniously according to God’s divine plan, irrespective of race, ethnicity, religion or any other differentiating factor. This commitment guides our actions and decisions.”

In partnership with human rights organizations, ecumenical partners and other values-based investors, UCF will continue to use economic leverage to challenge corporations violating human rights and to align our strategy to promote a just and sustainable world for all.

Learn more about our responsible investing strategies here.