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Dozens of American banks still investing in cluster munitions

JUNE 16, 2016

Silver Spring, MD—Handicap International is alarmed by the findings in the latest report by Dutch non-governmental organization, PAX, which calls out 158 financial institutions, 74 of which are in the U.S., for providing $28 billion in loans and financial services to seven cluster munition producers. Among the seven weapons makers are U.S.-based Orbital ATK, and Textron.

This 7th report, “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility,” studied how institutions worldwide were financing the production of these banned weapons between 2012 and 2016. The report’s Hall of Shame lists the institutions that still invest in companies making cluster munitions. American financial institutions topping the investments list include T Rowe Price, Vanguard, and JP Morgan Chase. The Hall of Shame is also dominated by financial institutions in China (29) and South Korea (26).

Financing the production of these weapons is a serious violation of the spirit of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (Oslo Treaty), which bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions. Twenty of the financial institutions come from States Parties to the Cluster Munition Convention: Germany, Canada, Spain, France, Japan, the United Kingdom and Switzerland. Only ten States parties have adopted legislation that prohibits investments in cluster munitions, including Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. The U.S. has yet to join the Convention.

“It is too easy for producers of cluster munitions to access loans and financial services,” explains Marion Libertucci, head of advocacy at Handicap International. “Allowing financial institutions to finance the production of cluster munitions is a violation of the spirit of the Oslo Treaty.”

States must be held accountable and stop these investments. Libertucci notes that some countries, like Belgium, have shown that it is possible to halt funding to producers of cluster munitions. “We should follow their example.”

There was a surge in the use of cluster munitions in 2015. “These worrying developments show how important it is not let down our guard and to remind people of the need to comply with the Oslo Convention,” Libertucci adds.  

According to the Cluster Munition Monitor 2015, cluster munitions were used in five countries in 2015: Libya, Syria, Sudan, Ukraine and Yemen. There has been a sharp increase in the use of these weapons since 2014.


More information

  • The 7th PAX report on investments in the production of cluster munitions scrutinises the activities of financial institutions, banks and pension funds with a view to identifying and condemning worldwide investment in the production of this weapon banned under an international treaty and which continues to kill and maim numerous civilians.
  • The Convention on Cluster Munitions, known also as the Oslo Convention, categorically bans the use, production, stockpiling and transfer of cluster munitions, and entered into force in 2010. There are 100 States Parties to the convention and 19 State Signatories. The convention states that: “Each State Party undertakes never under any circumstances to assist, encourage or induce anyone to engage in any activity prohibited to a State Party under this Convention.”
  • Cluster bombs are weapons containing several hundred mini-bombs called cluster munitions. Designed to be scattered over large areas, they inevitably fall in civilian areas. Up to 30% (or even 40%) do not explode on impact.  Like anti-personnel mines, they can be triggered at the slightest contact, killing and maiming people during and after conflicts. Indiscriminately affecting civilians and civilian property and military targets, cluster munitions violate international humanitarian law.

About Handicap International
Handicap International is an independent international aid organization. It has been working in situations of poverty and exclusion, conflict and disaster for 34 years. Handicap International has conducted anti-mine actions since 1992, in four humanitarian demining sectors: demining, risk education, victim assistance and advocacy. Its “global” approach enables it to act consistently in each of these four fields of action, in which it has acquired a unique technical expertise. The organization works in about 40 countries affected by mines and explosive remnants of war. Handicap International was co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for its action against landmines.


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