A Group of 131 Investors Mobilizes for Human Rights in Iran
[Montréal, Qc, 19 April 2023] - A group of 131 investors representing over $352 billion in assets is mobilizing for human rights in Iran.
The protest movement in Iran has been ongoing since the tragic death of Mahsa Amini, which sparked waves of mass protests throughout the country calling for political change. The international community and the business community remain deeply concerned about the situation. After several months of mobilization among civil society organizations, the investment and business community is urged to support the statement of more than 131 investors who call on companies, especially those involved in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector, to assume their responsibility to respect human rights.
“The ICT sector plays a critical role in enabling human rights in Iran given its weak rule of law and propensity toward censorship and retribution against dissidents. The Iranian government is known for internet restrictions and shutdowns, privacy violations including the monitoring of mobile phones, hacking of dissident websites and surveillance used to profile and identify protesters. Any tech company operating in Iran must ensure through due diligence that it is not complicit in these egregious human rights risks, and continue to make available products and services that support and promote freedom of expression and internet access.” - Anita Dorett, Investor Alliance for Human Rights
Iranian authorities continue to suppress dissent and peaceful protests, including through mass arrests, show trials, hasty executions, and detention of journalists. Sexual violence continues to be the primary means of repression against women during demonstrations. The "Women, Life, Freedom" movement in Iran represents a historic opportunity for positive change for women's rights and democracy. Businesses have a role to play in supporting this movement by ensuring that their products and services reinforce - and do not infringe upon - rights such as freedom of expression, information and association.
"This statement is an important endorsement for the Women, Life, Liberty movement in Iran. The responsible investment community (ESG), whose genesis was marked by the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa, is once again demonstrating that it is possible to integrate human rights issues into investment strategies. As the Iranian regime uses various technological tools to repress human rights, this statement can serve as a lever to engage with companies in these sectors that have operations in Iran to better support the Iranian people in their quest for freedom and democracy." - Sherazad Adib, Member of the Iranian diaspora in Quebec and ESG expert
The RRSE, in collaboration with Æquo and committed organizations from civil society and the Iranian diaspora, focused on the role played by information and communication technology (ICT) companies that are mostly incorporated in North America. The various technologies developed today can be used for political (anti-democratic) purposes and have concrete repercussions on the Iranian people. The ICT sector would benefit from stronger safeguards and diligent practices to ensure a better ethical framework.
“It is commendable that investors are showing support for the 'Women, Life, Freedom' uprising in Iran. From a civil society standpoint, we believe this can provide a valuable push for technology companies, as investors hold significant leverage over them. We look forward to witnessing the meaningful implementation of this statement, particularly through active consultation with Iranian civil society groups, conducting and releasing human rights impact assessments in Iran's context, and developing tools to further Iranians' access to the internet.” - Roya Pakzad, Taraaz Technology and Human Rights Research Center
"This investor initiative to raise awareness of the situation in Iran and to push asset holders and technology companies to do their due diligence is a first in Quebec. Our group, as well as many other actors, are concerned about the Iranian population. We observe ideological and anti-democratic uses of information technologies: limited internet access, censorship on social networks, video surveillance of women, facial recognition, so many practices that represent risks for human rights.” - Alice Chipot, Director of Regroupement pour la responsabilité sociale des entreprises (RRSE)
For interview requests:
Member of the Iranian diaspora in Quebec and ESG expert
Æquo, Director of Shareholder Engagement