7 March, 2018
Historic New “End Genocide Bill” Introduced in Maryland General Assembly
Maryland Delegate Bilal Ali (Baltimore City – District 41) has introduced a historic new bill to ensure that Maryland spends and invests taxpayers’ money in a manner that reflects Maryland values of upholding human rights and opposition to genocide and crimes against humanity.
The Maryland End Genocide Bill (HB 1787) will require that the State of Maryland spend and invest taxpayers’ money in accordance in Maryland values. It seeks to ensure that the State of Maryland, through its spending and investing of taxpayers’ money, uses its influence to press corporations to adopt a formal policy of refusing to do business with governments that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity.
Maryland Delegate Bilal Ali notes: “With this bill, we will ensure that Maryland citizens’ tax dollars will be spent ethically and invested responsibly. It is an expression of Maryland citizens’ values that we use our taxpayer dollars to press companies to refuse to do business with governments engaged in genocide or crimes against humanity.”
Furthermore, Simon Billenness, Executive Director of International Campaign for the Rohingya, said: “We welcome the State of Maryland in using its influence to press companies to reconsider doing business with the government of Burma. We hope that this pressure will help end Burma’s genocide of the Rohingya people.”
Wa’el Alzayat, CEO of Emgage Action, said: “Governments require corporate investment and trade. But no government can expect to do business as usual if it engages in genocide or crimes against humanity. We can deny corporations our investment and our purchases until they refuse to support governments that engage in these grave abuses of human rights.”
Key Provisions of the Maryland End Genocide Bill (HB 1787)
The full text of the bill can be found here.
The Maryland End Genocide Bill (HB 1787) will direct the state government, beginning on January 1st, 2020, to enter into contracts with only those corporations that have adopted a formal policy of refusing to do business with governments that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity.
The bill require the State Treasurer to ensure that any shares held by the State are voted in favor of shareholder resolutions that ask companies to adopt a policy of refusing to do business with governments that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity.
In both the procurement and investment provisions of the bill, the State of Maryland will act as a market participant. The State of Maryland will act in the marketplaces for goods, services, and capital just as any other consumer or investor does, free to apply both financial and ethical criteria in its purchasing and investing.
The bill will establish the Maryland Commission on Genocide Prevention to research which governments are at risk of committing genocide or crimes against humanity, identify corporations that do business with those governments, and hold hearings on the implementation of the Act.
Overall, the impact of the bill will be to use the State of Maryland’s procurement and investment processes to create market incentives for corporations to adopt a policy of refusing to do business with governments that engage in genocide or crimes against humanity.
About End Genocide Laws
During the American Revolution, town meetings adopted resolutions calling for a boycott of British-made goods. The Boston Tea Party seized on the spirit of these resolutions through its historic act of dumping British tea in Boston Harbor. This revolutionary campaign is captured in T.H. Breen’s book “The Marketplace of Revolution: How Consumer Politics Shaped American Independence.” It was in part through this “boycott British” campaign that the American colonies united and rose up to secure their independence.
City and state “End Genocide” laws build on this American tradition. These laws follow in the footsteps of other similar successful campaigns. In the 1980s, the anti-apartheid movement forced corporations to divest from South Africa under pressure from municipal and state laws. In the 1990s, over 100 corporations withdrew from Burma (Myanmar) after Massachusetts and over 20 cities passed laws effectively boycotting companies doing business in the country. In the 2000s, the Save Darfur campaign mobilized pressure on oil companies in Sudan. Today, the fossil fuel divestment campaign is succeeding in mobilizing state and local government to tackle climate change.
By passing a Genocide Prevention Law, a city or state can express its citizens’ values while also ensuring that, by its spending and investment of taxpayer dollars, it represents its citizens’ values as an actor in the marketplace for goods, services, and capital. In so doing, the city or state will also act in solidarity with people at risk of genocide or other grave human rights abuses.
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Maryland Delegate Bilal Ali (Baltimore City – District 41)
ABOUT MARYLAND DELEGATE BILAL ALI
Mr. Bilal Abdul Malik Ali serves as a delegate to the Maryland General Assembly representing Maryland’s District 41. He serves on the House Ways and Means committee. He is a member of the Baltimore City Delegation and the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.
Simon Billenness, Executive Director, International Campaign for the Rohingya
ABOUT INTERNATIONAL CAMPAIGN FOR THE ROHINGYA
The International Campaign for the Rohingya advocates and amplifies the voice of the Rohingya with international organizations, governments, corporations, and civil society. Its mission is to help the Rohingya secure peace, security, and their rights wherever they reside. As a member of the “No Business With Genocide” campaign, International Campaign for the Rohingya presses corporations to speak out to end the genocide of the Rohingya in Burma (Myanmar).
Iman Awad, National Legislative Director, Emgage Action
Emgage Action mobilizes Muslim Americans in support of key issues from criminal justice reform to healthcare to human rights, and prepares them for effective advocacy based on principled positions that uphold our values as Americans and as Muslims.