Position regarding Western Sahara

The Council on Ethics conducts dialogues with companies that can be linked to violations of international conventions which the state of Sweden has endorsed. The aim of the dialogues is to persuade the companies to address the problem and also to adopt preventive policies and procedures to prevent future violations of these conventions.

The Council on Ethics uses dialogue with companies as its primary tool to bring about change. Co-operation with other investors and filing shareholder resolutions at shareholder meetings are examples of other tools that are also used to put more pressure behind the dialogues. If a dialogue does not lead to the desired change the Ethical Council will recommend the AP-funds to exclude the company from their portfolios.

In 2002 the UN Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, Hans Corell concluded that the extraction of mineral resources of Western Sahara were contrary to international law, the UN Convention on Civil and Political Rights and the UN Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. In his statement Corell wrote; “… if further exploration and exploitation activities were to proceed in disregard of the interests and wishes of the people of Western Sahara, they would be in violation of the international law principles applicable to mineral resource activities in Non-Self-Governing Territories.”

The Council on Ethics has focused its analysis on companies that in various ways can be linked to the extraction of mineral resources from Western Sahara. The aim with the dialogues is to get the companies to cease extracting or purchasing mineral resources from Western Sahara, or alternatively to demonstrate that extraction or purchase of mineral resources is carried out in accordance with the interests and wishes of the Saharawi people, in line with the UN opinion from 2002 on the situation in Western Sahara.

[1] UN S 2002 161 Letter dated 29 January 2002 from the Under-Secretary-General for Legal Affairs, the Legal Counsel, addressed to the President of the Security Council