The financial institutions that invest in weapons producers are major players in the arms trade. Not only do financial institutions directly benefit from the arms trade, but they also reduce the risks that companies take in their deals. Furthermore, because banks and pension funds are "looking after" money from the civilian population, they can be subject to pressure.
In this newsletter we have reported several times about the successes of the campaign in Belgium against financial institutions and their investment in the arms trade. During the last year also groups in Spain have put pressure on a major bank, BBVA. The campaign has had some success in that the bank has publicly declared it is changing its policies - but that still has to be seen.
The Norwegian Pension Fund is one of the world's biggest pension funds.. Its guidelines preclude investment in companies manufacturing "key components" of weapons - that is warheads, rocket motors and guidance systems. They also rule out any company involved in human rights violations according to the international law. These guidelines from the Norwegian Pension Fund are a useful reference for other investors. However, they don't go far enough. This year the guidelines are being reviewed, and the Pension Fund has invited contributions from civil society. Members of the Norwegian Peace Association will be making recommendations for changes to the guidelines, and themselves would like to receive suggestions for guidelines. One clear recommendation should be to analyse the role of financial investments in weapons manufacture and to stop investing in them.
In this edition you will read about the new treaty on cluster munitions. While the treaty is a vital step towards banning cluster bombs, again campaigners have not achieved their goal of prohibiting investment in this type of munition.
Including investors in the arms trade in both the guidelines of the Norwegian Peace Fund and in the Cluster Munitions Treaty would be a big step forward. However, the key to all such changes is the continual process of making the public more aware of the tentacles of war profiteering.