Submitted by: Harrington Investments, Inc.
Posted: May 04, 2007 – 12:45 PM EST
May 04 /CSRwire/ -
NAPA, CA - May 4, 2007 - Harrington Investments, Inc. (HII), a Napa, California-based socially responsible investment (SRI) advisory firm, has been successful in defeating a Yahoo! Inc. corporate challenge to keep a shareholder resolution on human rights off the ballot for the annual meeting scheduled for June 12, 2007. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled on April 16, 2007 that Yahoo! Inc. could not exclude the proposal from the company’s proxy material and shareholder ballot.
"This is the first time a binding by-law amendment to create a corporate Board Committee on Human Rights has made it on a shareholder ballot," said John Harrington, President and CEO of HII. "The internationally recognized moral issue of human rights will now become an important fiduciary issue for corporate directors."
"Shareholders have no power to nominate directors. They are self-nominated. These directors, however, are fiduciaries, and as such, should be responsible for overseeing global management, whose decisions may and often do, lead to violations of human rights throughout the world," Harrington added.
Yahoo! Inc. reportedly disclosed the identity of a Chinese citizen, Wang Xiaoning, who had published writings on the Internet critical of the Chinese communist government, and as a result is now serving a 10 year jail sentence. His wife, Yu Ling, has filed suit in U.S. federal court in San Francisco against Yahoo! Inc. for violating the Alien Tort Claims Act, alleging complicity in the torture, arbitrary arrest and detention, and other violations of U.S. and international law.
Harrington said: "The totalitarian terrorist government of China is responsible for the arrest, torture, imprisonment and judicial killings of literally thousands of its citizens, who advocate democratic and religious freedom as well as freedom of assembly and speech, while U.S. technology companies are complicit in selling hardware and software to the police and military to carry out these violations of human rights."
"Not only do many U.S. companies sell and lease the equipment, but they also work hand in glove with authorities on how to better utilize technology to identify dissidents, bloggers and websites which includes compilation of massive amounts of information and data to better track and control the Chinese population," Harrington concluded.
The shareholder resolution is a by-law amendment that authorizes the board of directors to establish a Board Committee on Human Rights which could review and make policy recommendations regarding human rights issues raised by the company’s activities and policies. The resolution suggests that in defining "human rights," the committee could use the U.S. Bill of Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as nonbinding benchmarks or reference documents.