The Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility recommended yesterday that Harvard abstain from voting its stock on a shareholder resolution prohibiting Exxon from drilling for oil in Guinea-Bissau under concessions from the Portuguese government.
The ACSR reported that it abstained on the resolution because last week's Portuguese military coup changes "the context in which the resolution was originally proposed."
A black nationalist government now reportedly controls about three-quarters of Guinea-Bissau after ten years of fighting for its independence from the Portuguese government. The United Nations General Assembly recognized the independent Guinea-Bissau government last year.
ACSR chairman Stanley S. Surrey, Smith Professor of Law, said last night that the new Portuguese government's policy toward Guinea-Bissau is "one of the imponderables people are speculating on all over the world."
Exxon now has an oil exploration contract in Guinea-Bissau from the Portuguese government.
General Antonio de Spinola, the head of the Portuguese junta, has said he favors the establishment of a Portuguese federation of allied autonomous states, including Guinea-Bissau, Mozambique and Angola.
President Bok said last night that he does not know how the Portuguese coup will affect Harvard's shareholder policy in corporations with operations in Portuguese colonies.
Harvard owns about $20 million worth of stock in Exxon.
In its last meeting this year, the ACSR also supported a resolution calling on Continental Oil Company to withdraw its operations from Namibia, but opposed a resolution asking Ford Motor Company to publish a report on its operations in the Philippines.
The ACSR also supported resolutions calling on:
* Exxon to report to its shareholders on its energy crisis policy;
* The Xerox board of directors to nominate at least one woman director at its next meeting; and
* Continental Oil, Exxon and Kennecott Copper to report to their stockholders on their strip-mining activities.
The committee opposed a resolution asking Xerox to affirm its political non-partisanship