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It is always comforting when institutions act true to form. It is even more comforting when that form remains both coherent and consistent over the years. One can be grateful to the Norwegian Pension Fund Global and its institutionalized leadership structure for that. But more likely one can thank the solidarity among its elites with respect to general principles and outlooks that reflect an elite Euro-Norwegian sensibility that these peoples seek to project onto the world. And that, of course, is both their right, and their duty as they see it as heirs to an earlier expression of these elite vales and sensibilities that produced the world that collapsed between 1914 and 1945.
To that end the Norwegian Pension Fund Global institutions continue to serve as a remarkable, and for its structure and resources, quite successful instrument of the project of Euro-Norwegian internationalism about which I have written before (see, Sovereign Investing and Markets-Based Transnational Rule of Law Building: The Norwegian Sovereign Wealth Fund in Global Markets; Sovereign Wealth Funds as Regulatory Chameleons; Sovereign Wealth Funds, Capacity Building, Development, and Governance). It does so by quite strategic and targeted interventions at the center of the global elite's engagement with the challenges that threaten its (discursive and normative) hegemony.
So it is that in the wake of renewed conflict between the Hamas organization and the Israeli state, and the shadow of military intervention in the governance of Myanmar that the Norges Bank has announced its decision to exclude three companies from the Fund following these recommendations by the Council on Ethics:
1. The Council on Ethics' recommendation that Mivne Real Estate Kd Ltd be excluded from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict. The Council on Ethics’ recommendation rests on the fact that the company engages in letting of industrial real estate liked to Israel settlements in the West Bank. "This case is not about a company’s construction activities, but its letting of already existing buildings. In the Council’s assessment, there is no reason in this case to differentiate between the two forms of operation. The company’s letting of buildings constructed in violation of international law contributes to the continuation of an illegal state that their construction once initiated. This form of contribution to international law violations constitutes, in the Council’s view, grounds for exclusion of companies from the GPFG." (Ethics Council Recommendation pp- 5-6) Please find the Council's recommendation here: Mivne Real Estate KD Ltd – Council on Ethics (etikkradet.no)
2. The Council on Ethics' recommendation Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd be excluded from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global due to an unacceptable risk that the company is contributing to serious violations of the rights of individuals in situations of war or conflict. The Council on Ethics’ position is that the Israeli settlements in the West Bank have been built in violation of international law and that their existence and constant expansion causes significant harm and disadvantage to the area’s Palestinian population. "The Council considers that a company that engages in the physical construction of settlements in the West Bank is closely associated with the violation of international law and contributes directly to it, and that this constitutes grounds for recommending that the company be excluded from investment by the GPFG." (Ethics Council Recommendation p. 4). Please find the Council's recommendation here: Shapir Engineering and Industry Ltd – Council on Ethics (etikkradet.no)
3. The Council on Ethics' recommendation that Honeys Holdings Co Ltd be excluded from investment by the Government Pension Fund Global due to an unacceptable risk that the company is responsible for systematic human rights abuses. "The company owns two garment factories in Myanmar. Investigations into working conditions at these factories identified numerous labour rights violations, including harassment of workers and serious violations of fire safety and health and safety regulations." (Ethics Council, Announcement Press Release) Please find a summary of the Council's recommendation here: Honeys Holding Co – Council on Ethics (etikkradet.no)
None of the cases add much to the existing jurisprudence of the regulatory scheme of the Pension Fund Global. It is the timing of the announcement that suggests its politics, and the effort by the Norwegian state apparatus to have some sort of projectable authoritative voice in the global discussion around issues of Myanmar's disordered state (and the openings for human rights abuses that might make easier), and of course, the disciplining of the Jewish presence outside of the confines of that political territorial space conceded to it by the realities of power and ambiguous UN pronouncements, at least as long as they can hold it. None of this will change things in and of themselves. But the act of solidarity with Euro-Norwegian elites is an important function--and an affirmation of fidelity to its perspectives and prejudices (in the sense of normatively supported prejudgment) is a key element of its continuing influence within the spheres in which it operates. The last point is likely the most important element that comes out of these decisions. It is one that is easily transposable to the conduct of other non-state actors seeking an influential role within the OECD sphere of influence. And it marks one aspect of the European project of normative empire building in the shadow of the construction if the Chinese and American post global imperiums. Its power and lasting effect, however, remains unknown.