Global financial institutions made an estimated 402 billion US dollars available to nuclear weapons producers. The report Don’t Bank on the Bomb, published today by Dutch peace organization PAX, identifies 411 banks, insurance companies and pension funds with investments in 28 companies involved in the production, maintenance or stockpiling of nuclear weapons.
The PAX report shows that more financial institutions recognise the stigma associated with nuclear weapons and have adopted policies prohibiting or limiting investments in the nuclear weapons industry in the past year. These policies however haven’t led to a reduction of investments, yet. Susi Snyder, co-author of the report said: “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 humanitarian consequences will last for decades and effective aid will not be possible. The only way to prevent this from happening is to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons once and for all. Stigmatizing these inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, and excluding them from investments, will help.”
Top 10 investors: 175 billion
The top 10 investors alone provided more than 175 billion US dollars to the 28 identified nuclear weapon producers. With the exception of French BNP Paribas, all financial institutions in the top 10 are based in the US. The top 3 – State Street, Capital Group and Blackrock – have a combined US$ 80 billion invested. In Europe, the most heavily invested are BNP Paribas (France), Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays (both United Kingdom). In Asia, the biggest investors are Mitsubishi UFJ Financial and Sumitomo Mitsui Financial (both Japan) and the Life Insurance Corporation of India.
Hall of Fame
Investments in nuclear weapons producers are not a necessity but a choice, as shown by eight financial institutions listed in the report’s Hall of Fame. These institutions have outstanding policies preventing any types of investment in any company with association to nuclear weapons. These institutions are from Italy, The Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Susi Snyder said: “Divestment makes it clear to companies that as long as they are associated with nuclear weapons programmes, they will be considered illegitimate themselves, and a bad investment. Divestment by even a few institutions based on the same ethical objection can have a significant impact on a company’s strategic direction.”
In December, the Austrian government will host the third intergovernmental conference on the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons. Following on the conferences held in Norway and Mexico, over 150 states are expected to come together to further explore the risks and consequences associated with nuclear weapons.