Disinvestment campaigners track success at Amsterdam workshop

Campaign to end investment in cluster bombs launched 1 year ago

Twenty campaigners active on disinvestment from around the world met in Amsterdam on 4-5 October to gain technical knowledge, share campaign successes and challenges, and carry out strategic planning for 2011.  The Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC) and CMC members IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen hosted the workshop nearly a year after launching the “Stop Explosive Investments” campaign to end investments in companies that produce cluster munitions.

Campaigners from eight countries shared the major successes and challenges faced by their national disinvestment campaigns, and short updates were given on progress in additional countries not represented at the workshop. Representatives from the international network Banktrack also shared information. Campaigners said they faced challenges in areas such as campaigning for the development of a producers blacklist and urging banks to increase transparency with their policies.

Successes included increased media attention on the issue in the past year, influencing banks to stop investing in producers of cluster munitions and lobbying governments to condemn investments in cluster munitions producers– including laws, ministerial statements and parliamentary initiatives in France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the Netherlands, among others.

Jan Willem van Gelder of the economic research consultancy Profundo and Diederik Timmer of Sustainalytics, a global environmental, social and governance (ESG) research and analysis provider to financial institutions, kicked off the workshop with presentations on a variety of technical topics including:

  • direct and indirect investments in cluster munitions producers;
  • responsibility of financial institutions;
  • technical topics identified by campaigners in advance of the meeting such as index trackers, foreign subsidiaries and institutional investors;
  • problems that financial institutions face when dealing with disinvestment; and
  • what legal issues are important when looking at legislation and their policies, as well as what expert advice is available on this.

Campaigners used the workshop to develop national and international campaign plans for 2011. A wide range of topics were covered, including: working on a blacklist; improving communications and information-sharing between campaigns; sharing research information and resources and planning for future workshops and events, including the launch of the next update of the report, “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions: A shared responsibility” in April 2011.

In the year since the “Stop Explosive Investments” campaign was launched, the Convention on Cluster Munitions has entered into force as binding international law and the treaty’s First Meeting of States Parties will take place this November in Lao PDR, the world’s most cluster-bombed country. As the number of countries on board the treaty grows – to date 108 have signed and 42 have ratified – disinvestment campaigners will continue to lobby their governments and financial institutions to stop the flow of funds to companies that produce cluster munitions that are increasingly banned in countries around the world.

To view photos of the event visit www.flickr.com/photos/clustermunitioncoalition/sets/72157624994488265/