Campagne tegen Wapenhandel

CtWIn the Netherlands, public pressure fuelled by media and NGO reporting, has been quite successful in setting new standards for social responsible investment. Almost all Dutch pension funds by now exclude investments in anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions. Many funds also exclude investments in nuclear weapon companies. Unfortunately, the largest Dutch pension fund, ABP is not among those. Instead, ABP – a pension fund for government employees – invests hundreds of millions of dollars in nuclear weapon companies.

ABP distinguishes between ‘controversial weapons’ and ‘forbidden weapons’. It advertises on its website that it does not invest in controversial weapons such as land mines and cluster munitions, but it greenwashes its investments in nuclear weapons by saying that while the weapons are highly controversial, they are not forbidden.

The Campagne tegen Wapenhandel (CtW, Dutch Campaign Against Arms Trade) has over the past years run a targeted campaign to end ABP’s involvement in nuclear weapons. And with some success. Press releases are often picked up by the media and regular reports on Dutch pension fund investments in nuclear weapons receive a lot of attention in the media and on social media networks.

It has forced ABP to explain itself on its website. ABP writes: “Nuclear weapons fuel a lot of discussion…. That is why ABP needed an objective framework to assess in what the pension fund does and does not want to invest. The fund is following the line of the Dutch government.”

For the Campagne tegen Wapenhandel, referring to government policy as an ‘objective framework’ does not acquit ABP from its own corporate responsibility. By choice, ABP continues to invest in weapons of mass destruction, which runs directly against the funds claim to behave socially responsible. CtW’s Mark Akkerman explains: During our campaigns we found that people are baffled and angry about these investments, especially if they realize this concerns their own pension money. Many people have written their pension fund to voice their concerns. In 2012, we got over a thousand signatures in a card campaign targeting pension funds investments in the European nuclear weapons producer EADS. In November 2012 we visited the ABP, right after it increased it’s nuclear weapon investments by almost 50%. In a hit and run action we put signs in front of the main entrance saying “This pension fund invests in nuclear weapons”. Photo’s of this naming and shaming were widely shared on Facebook and picked up by several newspapers.

In 2012 as well, the board of ABP toured the country to meet with local participants . At several meetings, the board members were confronted with critical questions about or banners against their nuclear investment policy. So far ABP has stubbornly held on its investments in nuclear weapon companies….. but public pressure is mounting.

This report provides the basis for coordinated campaigning to discourage financial institutions from investing in nuclear weapons companies. Taking action can involve meeting with bank representatives, organizing protests outside their headquarters or branches, raising public awareness, finding allies and promoting legislation prohibiting investment. You can also use social media, like twitter.

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Send a message to financial institutions!

Why Campaign on Divestment?

Open the debate! Disinvestment campaigns attract media attention and re-open discussions as to what is acceptable and what is not. Showing that there is less interest in financing the bomb shows that nuclear weapons are less legitimate. This can help to sway politicians and civil servants and reactivate the debate about nuclear weapons in a different way.

Build new norms! Once financial institutions change their policies to ban investment in nuclear weapons, they start developing new investment standards and norms. Financial institutions represent a huge influence on producers of nuclear weapons, and have the power to directly influence and engage with producers of nuclear weapons. Working with financial institutions is a powerful way to directly influence companies practices and demonstrate that nuclear weapons are not a feasible long term business interest.

Reach the whole of society! This activity lets you reach out to financial institutions, ministries of finance, companies, ethical advisor firms- a whole new range of actors to generate and demonstrate whole of society support for a ban!

Everyone can act! Often, nuclear weapons are a vague and distant idea- they are not real or connected to day to day life, and acting for abolition feels like something for policy experts only. But almost everybody has a bank account. By building a “not with my money!” feeling, we can encourage people to contact their banks or pension funds and take useful action to ban (investments) in the bomb. It brings the issue closer to people’s day to day life, with an opportunity to act.

Get creative! This type of campaigning is focused, targeted, empowering and effective. Divestment efforts also give you a chance to get creative and use an all inclusive approach to reach out and speak out against nuclear weapons.

No party excuses! Divestment efforts are not tied to one political party or political side of the spectrum. Divestment is a way to reach across party divides and build broad inclusive relationships in the campaign to outlaw and eliminate nuclear weapons.

It Works! In recent years the financial industry has become increasingly aware of the importance of Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) practices. Since these SRI go beyond legal obligations, campaigners can demonstrate success for the cause before any legal international framework compels financial institutions to act.

Engage the Public

Engage the Media

Engage the Government

Engage Financial Institutions