On Wednesday 20 September, the new Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons officially opened for signature and over 50 countries signed. The US was not one of the signers, but a New York bank added its support.
Amalgamated Bank’s Robert Mante posted a piece on their website discussing how Amalgamated doesn’t invest in weapons. This is the first time Amalgamated has made public its investment policy around weapons- including nuclear weapons.
This statement was the result of some dedicated bank clients, demanding change. One campaigner, the man behind the Good Thinking documentary, was particularly tenacious, bringing the issue to higher and higher levels within the bank, until the statement was published.
Susi Snyder, who coordinates Don’t Bank on the Bomb, said “It’s a great step for Amalgamated, a bank that seeks to embrace transparency to share some more specific information about its investment policies. We hope that it leads to a full fledged policy against investing in nuclear weapon producers soon.”
Amalgamated Bank’s Robert Mante elaborated that internal investment guidelines ensure that their commercial banking business does “not currently engage in treasury management for any weapons manufacturers” nor are they “currently lend[ing] any money to these kinds of companies; and [the] bank does not invest any of its own money into weapons manufacturers.”
During the negotiations for the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, around 20 states explicitly indicated they supported either an explicit inclusion of a prohibition on financing/investments in the treaty, or the prohibition of these activities as part of assistance. Most nuclear-armed states rely on private companies for the production, maintenance and modernization of their nuclear weapons. Financial institutions provide crucial and necessary support to these companies, so that they are able to carry out projects like producing key components for nuclear weapons.
Financial institutions can help to strengthen norms against inhuman adn illegal weapons, and Amalgamated Bank is moving in the right direction.