Divestment is one tool in the campaigning portfolio which can be used to great effect. Getting companies, pension funds or governments to remove investments in unethical assets can be a key way of pulling the plug on unacceptable practices. There has been a push to this form of action in recent years, including in anti-nuclear campaigning, and the new Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons gives this an extra boost.
Russell Whiting from Christian CND shares below the latest on the report from faith groups which shines a light on investment by some leading UK financial institutions.
“The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) will to be a significant campaigning tool in the years to come as we continue to strive to eliminate nuclear weapons from the UK and around the world. The desire of the international community in seeking genuine peace and security without threatening to kill millions is clear from the 130 states who voted to reaffirm support for the Treaty in the UN General Assembly in December 2020.
There is a clear argument that the TPNW moves nuclear weapons into the category of “controversial weapons”, being outlawed now under international law. That would mean financial institutions treat nuclear weapons in the same way as chemical and biological weapons.
Whilst the UK government continues to ignore the TPNW and presses ahead spending hundreds of billions of pounds on Trident replacement, there are still things we can be doing to challenge the policy and bring about change.
Together with other faith groups Christian CND has published a report highlighting the investment policies and practices of some of the leading financial institutions in the UK. Through research and dialogue we gave each a score out of 30 – with the Co-operative bank coming out well ahead of the rest as the best. There’s a simple tool on the website to contact your bank or pension provider to ask them to change policy.
The institutions in our report represent billions of pounds of our money routinely invested in companies which produce and maintain nuclear weapons. The good news is that change is already happening, two of the largest pension funds in the world have divested from nuclear weapons: the Norwegian Sovereign Fund and the ABP pension fund of the Netherlands. Deutsche Bank of Germany and Resona Holdings of Japan have also divested.
We know companies listen to their customers. In the UK NEST, one of the largest pension providers, is currently undertaking a review of nuclear weapons policy in light of the TPNW, including a consultation with members.
We hope you will join others who have already taken action to take money away from the nuclear weapons producers. By challenging the legitimacy of nuclear weapons in the private sector as well as in public debate we will move closer to our vision of a nuclear weapons-free world.”