Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc | Human Rights Impact Assessment at Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc

AGM date
Previous AGM date
Resolution details
Company ticker
Resolution ask
Conduct due diligence, audit or risk/impact assessment
ESG theme
  • Social
ESG sub-theme
  • Human rights
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Company sector
Health Care
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED, Shareholders request the Board of Directors to produce annually a Human Rights Impact Assessment regarding the sale (directly and via third parties) of the Company’s HID Products to law enforcement agencies. Reports to provide clear explanations of evidence examined and decisions made regarding permitting sales to law enforcement in regions where the use of such products could reasonably be expected to violate human rights. Such a report may exclude proprietary or legally privileged information.
Whereas clause
Shareholders are concerned that Thermo Fisher Scientific (“the Company”) has signed sales agreements with police forces in occupied Tibet to supply Human Identification (HID) products. Two reports have been published outlining how authorities across Tibet have collected DNA from as many as 1.2 million Tibetans - including children as young as 5 years old without consent from their parents. [1]
Tibet is a repressive policing environment, where ‘criminal activity’ includes criticizing the government, owning a picture of the Dalai Lama or teaching the Tibetan language to children. Engaging in these activities routinely results in detention and torture of Tibetans by the police.
The police in Tibet are accountable only to the Chinese Communist Party, with no free media, civil society or international observers to place checks on their conduct. As such, it appears impossible that Thermo Fisher can guarantee how the police will use its equipment once it reaches Tibet.
Since October 2022 representatives of impacted communities have written to the Company five times to raise concerns of the use of the Company’s HID products by law enforcement in Tibet. Shareholders also raised the issue at the 2023 AGM. The company has responded, but not engaged with the key issues that police in occupied Tibet cannot be trusted to only use this DNA equipment for standard criminal investigations, and that they are engaged in an ethnically targeted program of DNA collection. Despite repeated requests, the Company has to date refused to meet with stakeholders.
There is evidence of state-run DNA harvesting across China [2], and the Company recognized the possibility of its products being used in human rights violations, which prompted it, “consistent with its values, ethics code, and policies,” to cease “any new sales of HID products to Xinjiang Public Security Bureaus (PSBs) in March of 2019.”
Supporting statement
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Proponents suggest that in such an Impact Assessment the company includes, or explains why it cannot disclose:
A clear assessment of the nature of the policing environmentDisproportionality in policing experienced by different demographics of the populationProportion of children subjected to DNA testing Examination of any reports of police-led mass DNA collection, in particular those targeted based on race, ethnicity or other characteristics for regions where the company sells, or proposes to sell, HID products to law enforcement agencies.
[1] Emile Dirks, 'Mass DNA Collection in the Tibet Autonomous Region from 2016–2022, Citizen Lab, 13 September 2022;
[2] China’s sitting on a goldmine of genetic data – and it doesn’t want to share CNN, 12 August 2023

How other organisations have declared their voting intentions

Organisation name Declared voting intentions Rationale
Degroof Petercam Asset Management (DPAM) For

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