On December 10, 2012, the University of Toronto’s Graduate Student Union (GSU) voted overwhelmingly in favour of a resolution to endorse the global campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS), at their annual general meeting. Over 150 graduate students were present at the meeting, of which approximately 97% voted in favour of the motion, with only a few students opposed.
The resolution states “Be it resolved that the Graduate Students Union endorse Palestinian civil society’s 2005 call for boycotts, divestment and sanctions by calling on the University of Toronto to refrain from investing in all companies complicit in violations of international law. This includes any company that: profits from the illegal occupation of Palestinian land, directly benefits from the construction of the Wall and Israeli settlements, is economically active in settlements, and profits from the collective punishment of Palestinians. This would include the companies BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard”.
The resolution was adopted in support of Palestinian rights and opposition to Israel’s illegal military occupation of Palestine and its violations of international law under the Geneva Conventions, as affirmed by the International Court of Justice in 2004. By divesting, the University of Toronto will fulfill its legal obligation not to invest in companies or organizations that are complicit in human rights violations, and will help force Israel to comply with international law.
In March 2011, Students Against Israeli Apartheid at the University of Toronto launched a divestment campaign addressing the university’s investments in companies that assist in, and profit from Israeli apartheid and the occupation of the Palestinian territories, with a specific focus on BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard, which provide the Israeli occupation with weapons and technology. In passing this resolution, U of T joins York University, University of Regina, Carleton University and universities around the world, who have all passed similar resolutions at their student unions.
The passage of this resolution is a milestone in divestment activities in North America and will hopefully pave the way for a broader campaign which demands that the University of Toronto divest from any and all companies profiting from Israel’s illegal occupation.