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Hall of Shame: Seven UK financial institutions still supporting production of cluster bombs

More than £17 billion is invested in companies that produce cluster munitions, says a new report released today. The financial institutions backing these banned bombs include seven based in the UK.

Despite a 2008 convention that outlawed these inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, 151 financial institutions around the world still continue to fund companies behind the production of cluster munitions. AOAV is a founding member of the Cluster Munitions Coalition (CMC), and joins the CMC call for the UK government to enact legislation prohibiting public and private investment in those companies.

“Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: a shared responsibility,” launched today by Dutch charity Pax, reveals the staggering scale of continuing investment in these hideous weapons. Cluster bombs are designed to break open in mid-air, covering the equivalent of several football fields with hundreds of explosive submunitions. They will kill or injure anybody who is within that wide-area, whether they are military or civilian. Additionally, cluster munitions continue to be a threat to civilians long after they have been dropped. Submunitions which have failed to explode can remain on the ground for decades after they fell to earth.

“We must put lives before profit. We’re talking about a weapon that is currently killing civilians in Syria and eastern Ukraine and continues to claim lives in Laos fifty years after it was used. Yet financial institutions have invested US$27 billion—more than twice the GDP of Laos—in producers of this banned weapon,” said Amy Little, Campaign Manager at the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

The UK’s Hall of Shame

Seven of the financial institutions with ties to companies producing cluster munitions are from the UK, including Aberdeen Asset Management, Fidelity Worldwide Investment, Invesco, Old Mutual, Prudential, Schroders and Standard Life. Between June 2011 and September 2014 these financial institutions have indirectly allowed the continuing production of cluster munitions by arms companies from South Korea, China, Singapore and the US. It is their responsibility to disinvest from producers to stop them from receiving financial support.

Only one UK institution, the Co-operative Bank, deserved a place in the ‘Hall of Fame.’

The UK government is a member of the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions, and this year announced the destruction of its entire stockpile. This is a massive achievement and one that AOAV warmly welcomes. What is needed now is for the UK government to enact national legislation that prohibits public and private institutions from investing in cluster munitions. Only by making sure these bombs are never made in the first place can we really be sure of stopping more innocent civilians from dying at their hands.

UK members of the 2014 Hall of Shame

  • Aberdeen Asset Management
  • Fidelity Worldwide Investment
  • Invesco
  • Old Mutual
  • Prudential
  • Shroders
  • Standard Life

UK members of the 2014 Hall of Fame

  • The Co-operative Bank

Runners up

  • Aviva
  • Barclays
  • HSBC
  • Lloyds Banking Group
  • Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Standard Chartered