Position Paper of The Committee for Responsible Investment on The Position of Georgetown University on Recent Events in South Africa
by Committee for Responsible Investment
Washington, DC, United States
Undated, early 1985?
Contents: I. Introduction • II. Points of Departure • 1. Apartheid is a system of legislated institutionalized racism • 2. Foreign investments support the present government • 3. External forces cannot dictate solutions to South Africa’s internal problems • 4. The time is right to act • 5. The University has an active role to play in society • III. The Problem Clearly Stated and a Two-pointed Approach To It • IV. Proposed Plan of Action • V. Conclusion • The report says the U.S. faces a dilemma concerning continued political support for and corporate investment in the South Africa, whose racist policy of apartheid is contrary to our deeply held beliefs about human rights and social justice. Continuing killings of unarmed civilians in South Africa and protests across the U.S. about involvement in South Africa have focused on the evils of apartheid. This is a compelling moral issue for Georgetown University. Foreign investment is critical to the South African economy, and U.S. investment plays a major role in the strategically important automobile, petroleum mining industries and especially the developing high-tech communications industry. Sales of South African Krugerrands in Europe and the U.S. is a critical source of income for the South African government. Even more important is the political and diplomatic support that follows economic interests. Furthermore, U.S. investment, guided by the Sullivan Principles, is not a progressive force for change in South African society; these Principles do not and cannot address the fundamental problem of apartheid, namely control of the land. Gains in pay, status, and workplace facilities and organizational rights for 1% of working Africans are irrelevant while there is no possibility of pursuit of economic freedoms outside the workplace. Social and political change can only result from a working out of the internal forces of South African society. The U.S. should not maintain and support a system we know to be inherently evil and contrary to our essential beliefs in human dignity. The paper advocates continued and increased engagement with the South Africans through non-corporate institutions (labor unions, universities, churches, civic associations) so as to directly benefit the deprived population of South Africa. Since the adoption of a new constitution in November 1983, open and violent opposition and repression have become common in South Africa; the attention focused on South Africa by the U.S. media as well as the prolonged visit of Nobel Peace Prize winner Bishop Desmond Tutu last fall led to the ongoing nationwide protests against U.S. involvement in South Africa. Georgetown University, an internationally prominent institution in the nation's capital, is a unique forum for discussing global issues; as a Catholic and Jesuit institution, it encourages students to regard ''all men as essentially equal, as endowed with a human dignity to be respected." The report says political and economic pressure consists of valid and credible threats and conditional diplomatic demands. There is a distinction between divestment and disinvestment. The latter is the withdrawal of economic interests and loans from South Africa; the former is withdrawal of funds from corporations doing business in South Africa. As the conflict deepens, organizations from Boy Scouts and 4-H clubs to trade unions and agricultural cooperatives can establish ties with similar South African groups to transfer appropriate knowledge and materials and to engender friendship and understanding, while support for the apartheid structure decreased. The report seeks to encourage the Administration and Board of Directors of Georgetown University to take a moral position and to act on the issue of apartheid and U.S. economic support for the South African government, which it can do effectively and positively. The report mentions political rights, democratic processes, influx controls, passbook laws, segregated facilities, poverty, treason, a Center for South African Studies, the African Studies Program, developed the Bantustan policy, and "grand apartheid."
Collection: Kathleen McShea Erville papers