ICAN has identified hundreds of banks, pension funds, insurance companies and asset managers around the world with substantial investments in nuclear arms producers. The report Don’t Bank on the Bomb, updated annually by PAX, provides details of financial transactions with companies that are heavily involved in the manufacture, maintenance and modernization of US, British, French and Indian nuclear forces.
We are appealing to financial institutions to stop investing in the nuclear arms industry, as any use of nuclear weapons would violate international law and have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. By investing in nuclear weapons producers, financial institutions are in effect facilitating the build-up of nuclear forces. This undermines efforts to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world and heightens the risk that one day these ultimate weapons of mass destruction will be used again.
The report provides the basis for coordinated campaigning to discourage financial institutions from investing in nuclear weapons companies. Taking action can involve meeting with bank representatives, organizing protests outside their headquarters or branches, raising public awareness, finding allies and promoting boycotts. The report includes a “hall of fame” listing companies that have rejected nuclear weapons.
Writing to financial institutions
Engaging in dialogues with financial institutions about their investments in nuclear weapons companies can help to raise their understanding of the effects of nuclear weapons and their status under international law. Here are some tips for letter-writing:
- How to begin: Let the financial institution know who you are. Do you hold a bank account with them? Are you a member of their superannuation plan? Do you own shares in their company? Are you writing as a representative of a particular organization? Are you simply a concerned citizen?
- What to include: Inform the financial institution that you are aware of their investments in nuclear weapons companies. Specify which companies and briefly describe the activities these companies are engaged in. Outline why you believe that financing nuclear weapons is illegitimate.
- Ask for information: Inquire as to whether the financial institution has a policy on investing in the arms industry. If you are already aware that such a policy exists, ask the institution to explain how its investments in nuclear weapons companies can be justified under the terms of the policy.
- Call for action: Call on the financial institution to divest from all nuclear weapons companies. Explain that nuclear weapons are illegal to use and have catastrophic humanitarian consequences. End by making it clear that you expect a response.