Today in London, campaigners launched the CMC’s ‘Stop explosive investments’ campaign to promote disinvestment from cluster bomb producers. Please check out the new website: www.stopexplosiveinvestments.org and the detailed toolkit which is a comprehensive one stop shop for all campaigning on disinvestment and cluster bombs. The CMC press release on the campaign launch is available here: www.stopclustermunitions.org/news/?id=1883.
The launch coincided with the release of the new report by CMC members IKV Pax Christi of the Netherlands and Netwerk Vlaanderen of Belgium. This new report, entitled: “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions: a shared responsibility” is available at: www.stopexplosiveinvestments.org/report.
The campaign launch team included report authors Roos Boer (IKV Pax Christi) and Esther Vandenbroucke (Netwerk Vlaanderen), Miriam Struyk and Jeppe Schilder of IKV Pax Christi, Oliver Sprague of Amnesty International UK, Ruth Tanner of War on Want and the CMC team of Samantha Bolton, Kimberly Brown, Laura Cheeseman, and Thomas Nash. Images from the campaign launch can be found on Flickr.
Campaigners gathered in Canary Wharf this morning, London’s modern financial district, which is private property and – as well as apparently having laws of its own – is home to two of the UK banks named in the new report as providing financial services to cluster bomb producers: Barclays Bank and HSBC. The day began with a press conference attended by journalists from Reuters, Italian press agency ANSA, Norwegian Dagbladet newspaper and a broadcast crew from Russia Today. Chris Anderson of “Unacceptable harm” and “What remains” fame was also there to film the day’s proceedings and will issue a short clip on youtube in due course on the actions. The Guardian newspaper had an exclusive scoop on the story.
At the press conference Roos gave an overview of the cluster bomb disinvestment issue and the reason for the new report; Esther outlined the key findings of the report including the ‘hall of fame’ and the ‘hall of shame’ and Thomas briefed on the Convention on Cluster Munitions, the human cost of the weapons and the call on governments to clamp down on financing of producers of the weapon. Oliver Sprague from Amnesty responded to a question on the UK’s position on financing of cluster bomb producers, noting that the UK’s export control rules had been changed in October 2008 to put cluster bombs in the same heavily restricted category as nuclear weapons and torture equipment. This should also prohibit financing of cluster bomb producers. Ruth Tanner noted that War on Want sees the cluster bomb issue as one that affects poverty and that their own research had shown that it is possible for banks to disinvest completely from cluster bombs, so if other banks can do it, HSBC can do it.
Following the press conference the team, led by Kim dressed in the human cluster bomb suit, walked over to the Headquarters of Barclays Bank to hand over a copy of the new report. Roos, who had an appointment, went inside to deliver the report and came out with a statement from the bank (PDF 139KB) noting that their policy banned investments in cluster bombs. According to the report however, this does not cover loans to companies producing cluster munitions, so Barclays agreed to meet in the future to discuss this. After the warm welcome at Barclays the team headed down to HSBC, where Roos and Kim had another appointment, but security was a little tighter down there, where we were asked not to film. Roos and Kim eventually emerged from HSBC with a promise from its head of Corporate Social Responsibility that they would meet with UK campaigners to discuss the issue in the coming weeks.
Back in central London the campaign team headed to the safety of an HSBC automatic cash machine in Vauxhall station, where Jeppe of IKV Pax Christi led an impromptu photo shoot, this time with Roos dressed in the human cluster bomb suit (joining an exclusive club of four CMC campaigners who have donned the BL755 outift: Allison Pytlak, Guge Dube, Kimberly Brown and Roos Boer.)
CMC campaigners in 15 countries have planned to be involved in the disinvestment campaign on or around the day of the launch. Many have issued press releases while others are writing articles and reports on disinvestment specific to their own countries. We will update the new campaign website www.stopexplosiveinvestments.org with campaign actions from around the world as the reports come in. Thanks to all the campaigners out there for supporting the launch!
There has been sustained media interest here in London so far today and we expect it to continue into tomorrow. We will post media links on the website as they come through and of course you can follow all the action on the ‘banclusterbombs’ twitter feed at: www.twitter.com/banclusterbombs.
Many, many thanks to Roos and Esther especially for the excellent report that has provided the main hook for this campaign launch and also to Kim for the great work in putting the launch events together in London. We look forward to supporting CMC campaigners around the world as we help to build the norm against cluster bombs through this accessible public campaign.
Check now to see if your bank is in the report!