On 25 May 2011, the Cluster Munition Coalition held a Global Day of Action to Stop Explosive Investments. Campaigners called on governments to pass legislation to prohibit financial investments in cluster munition producers and to urge banks and other financial institutions to disinvest from cluster munition producers. More than 25 campaigners in 14 countries took action on the day, details on these actions can be found in the disinvestment section below.
CMC members IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen launched an updated report Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility on 25 May in Brussels that gives an overview of the financial institutions that are still investing in producers of cluster munitions. An Austrian member of the European Parliament from the Green Party Ulricke Lunacek, Laura Cheeseman from the CMC, Esther Vandenbroucke from Netwerk Vlaanderen and Roos Boer from IKV Pax Christi were panelists at a media briefing to mark the global day of action and launch the report and called on governments and financial institutions to disinvest from producers of these illegal weapons. The report shows that 166 private and public financial institutions continue to invest in companies that produce cluster munitions. Since May 2008 when the Convention on Cluster Munitions that bans the weapon was adopted, the amount invested in those producing companies totals US$39 billion. Many campaigners used the information from this report to plan their actions on the global day.
Although some countries, including Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand, have taken the lead in banning investment in these illegal weapons by passing national legislation, many countries and financial institutions are lagging behind.
“In order to stop the harm caused by cluster munitions, all countries should join the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” said Laura Cheeseman, director of the Cluster Munition Coalition. “Countries that have already signed the ban treaty should pass strong national legislation to ensure that they are not contributing to the production of weapons that they have outlawed,” she added.
The CMC and its research arm, the Cluster Munition Monitor have documented that in addition to the four countries that have banned investment in cluster munitions, a number of states have made moves towards prohibiting investment in cluster munitions. The Netherlands and Switzerland have adopted motions to develop legislation prohibiting investment and parliamentary action and discussions are on-going in Germany, Italy and Norway. Additionally, 16 countries have stated that they consider investment in cluster munition producers to be prohibited under the Convention: Australia, Cameroon, Colombia, Croatia, France, Guatemala, the Holy See, Hungary, Lebanon, Madagascar, Malawi, Malta, Mexico, Rwanda, the United Kingdom and Zambia. Campaigners called for these statements of intent to be followed up with strong legislation.
Following the Global Day of Action an event on cluster munitions and disinvestment took place in the European Parliament on 31 May. The event was co-hosted by CMC and Ms. Ulrike Lunacek, a member of the European Parliament for Austria (the Greens). Ms. Lunacek chaired the event, Kimberly Brown from the CMC spoke about cluster munitions and the humanitarian harm they cause and Esther Vandenbroucke from Netwerk Vlaanderen spoke about European Parliament resolutions on cluster munitions, recent report findings on investments in cluster munition producers, and worldwide government policy on disinvestment. Ms. Lunacek committed to raise this issue in the parliamentary committees that she is a member of and with her national parliamentarians in Austria. Fifteen members of the European Parliament were at the event as well as CMC members CMC Austria, Handicap International Belgium, IKV Pax Christi (Netherlands) and Netwerk Vlaanderen (Belgium).