Italy bans investments in cluster bombs producers

The Italian Chamber of Deputies. Photo by Nasdaq.

On 3 October 2017, the Italian Chamber of Deputies approved legislation prohibiting investments in cluster bomb producers. The new law will prohibit all types of investments in cluster bomb producers for all Italian financial institutions. It was approved with 389 votes in favour, 0 against and 3 abstentions.

The Stop Explosive Investments campaign welcomes the adoption of the law. We thank the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines for the years of hard work they put into achieving this milestone.

“We have worked on this law for many years, and we are very happy the law was adopted with such an overwhelming majority. This will really make a difference in strengthening the norm that investing in producers of banned weapons is not acceptable.” said Giuseppe Schiavello of the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines.

The new law will prohibit all Italian financial institutions from providing any form of support to Italian or foreign companies performing a range of activities including the production, use, sale, import, export, stockpiling, or transport of antipersonnel mines as well as cluster munitions and explosive submunitions. Also a blacklist of cluster bomb producers will be established.

Italy signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM) on 3 December 2008 and adopted national legislation ratifying and implementing the Convention in 2011. This legislation, Law no. 95, already prohibited ‘financial assistance’ with anyone who, among other things, uses, develops or produces cluster munitions. However, some issues were left unclarified, such as what types of investments exactly were prohibited under the law. Therefore the Italian Campaign to Ban Landmines has advocated a separate, more detailed law.

A draft bill was proposed in the Senate in 2010. After being accepted by a number of legislative committees, it was unanimously approved by the finance commission in October 2016 and referred to the Chamber of Deputies for a final vote, who approved the bill on 3 October 2017.

Investing in companies involved in the production of cluster munitions contributes to the continued production of these weapons. States Parties to the CCM have signed up to the convention to categorically ban cluster munitions because of the humanitarian harm they cause. However, cluster munitions continue to be produced in some states that have not yet joined the convention. Article 1(1)c of the CCM prohibits assistance in any of the prohibited activity. This prohibition to assist should be understood to include financing. Cluster Munitions producers cannot survive without investments. States Parties to the CCM should therefore strive to put an end to the financing of this production.

National prohibitions on the financing of cluster munitions producers, like the one just adopted in Italy, provide clear guidelines for financial institutions and are in the spirit of the CCM. There are currently 10 countries that have adopted legislation banning (forms of) investments in cluster munitions, and draft legislation has been proposed in Canada.

We urge all states to ban financial investments in cluster bomb producers.