Financial Institutions Increasingly Drop the Bomb from Investment Portfolios
Nukewatch Quarterly Winter 2015-2016
By PAX, The Hague, The Netherlands
GENEVA—Fifty-three financial institutions prohibit or limit investments in nuclear weapon producers, shows “Don’t Bank on the Bomb,” a report published November 12 by Dutch peace organization PAX. The number represents a 150 percent increase over last year’s report of the same name.
The increase in divestment illustrates the growing stigmatization of nuclear weapons because of the renewed focus on the indiscriminate and unlawful consequences of their manufacture and detonation. The PAX report also identifies 382 banks, insurance companies and pension funds which have made $493 billion available to nuclear weapons producers since January 2012. Based on evidence presented in the report, activists worldwide call on financial institutions to withdraw investments in companies making weapons of mass destruction, and demand that governments ban nuclear weapons.
The PAX report shows how these stigmatizing policies result in new exclusions by a number of institutions, including Fonds de Compensation (Luxembourg) and Nordea (Sweden). PAX researcher Wilbert van der Zeijden, co-author of the report, told reporters, “No bank, pension fund, or insurance company should have financial relations with companies involved in weapons of mass destruction. In the case of a nuclear detonation, the health and environmental consequences will last decades and effective aid will not be possible. The only way to prevent this from happening is to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons. Stigmatizing these inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, and excluding them from investments, will help.”
Nuclear weapons are the only weapons of mass destruction not yet explicitly prohibited under international law, a legal gap that 121 countries have pledged to fill. By stigmatizing investments in Bomb building, these 53 financial institutions help pave the way toward a treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons.
Hall of Fame
Investments in nuclear weapon producers are not a necessity but a choice, as is shown by 13 financial institutions listed in the report’s Hall of Fame. These institutions have outstanding policies preventing any and all investment in any company with association to nuclear weapons. These institutions are based in Denmark, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and Britain. Susi Snyder, co-author of the report said, “Divestment makes it clear to producers that as long as they are involved in nuclear weapon programs, they will be considered illegitimate and a bad investment.”
Top 10 Investors All Based in the US
The top 10 investors alone provided more than $209 billion, out of the $493 billion total, to the identified nuclear weapon producers. All of the top 10 are based in the United States.
The top three—Capital Group, State Street, and Blackrock—have more than $95 billion combined invested in the producers named in this report.
In Europe, the most heavily invested are BNP Paribas (France), Royal Bank of Scotland (United Kingdom) and Crédit Agricole (France). In the Asia-Pacific region, the biggest investors are Mitsubishi UFJ Financial (Japan), Life Insurance Corporation of India, and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial (Japan).
—PAX is a non-governmental peace group based in Utrecht, The Netherlands, working for the protection and security of civilians, and to prevent and end armed violence.