Wednesday, August 30, 2023
Prominent investors, including Allianz, Aegon, ABP, and PFZW, are collectively investing 5.7 billion euros in fifteen arms companies that provide weaponry to nations where the risk of human rights abuses is considered high. These countries include Saudi Arabia, among others. Some investors, particularly insurers, are, however refraining from such involvements due to concerns about associated risks. These are the findings from recent research conducted and published today by the Dutch Fair Finance Guide.
The research examined fifteen manufacturers that supply weapons systems to countries where there is a significant risk that they will be used to violate the laws of war or human rights. For example, almost all of these companies, including Boeing, Leonardo and General Electric, supply weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
For more than eight years these countries have been involved in the war in Yemen. In this time more than 158,000 people, many of them civilians, have been killed. Airstrikes by a coalition of countries led by Saudi Arabia have, for example, hit weddings and busy marketplaces. The attacks are often carried out with weapon systems produced in Europe and the US. Other high-risk countries include Turkmenistan, Egypt, Bahrain, Pakistan and India. Notably, India and Pakistan have remained in a state of conflict for years. Nevertheless, Dutch financial institutions continue to invest in the arms suppliers of these countries.
Eleven insurers and only one single pension fund are NOT investing in the fifteen arms companies. They consciously avoid association with these arms manufacturers, frequently due to concerns about engaging in arms transactions with high-risk nations.
A positive development is that four financial institutions are engaging in discussions with an arms manufacturer regarding arms exports to high-risk countries. This applies to Pensioenfonds Vervoer as well as insurers Achmea, NN Group, and VGZ. Notably, both Pensioenfonds Vervoer and PME, along with insurer NN Group, have reduced their investments in the scrutinized arms companies compared to an earlier study conducted by the Fair Finance Guide.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparked the discussion on and appeals for investors to consider supporting arms manufacturers even more, Cor Oudes, the author of the report, commented: "Ukraine must have the capability to defend itself, including with weaponry. Nevertheless, the Russian invasion underscores the inherent danger of supplying arms to dictators and violators of human rights – a practice that many Western arms companies continue to engage in."
Pension funds and insurers are urged to refrain from including arms companies that contribute to human rights violations by oppressive regimes in their investment portfolios.
The Dutch Fair Finance Guide - Eerlijke Geldwijzer - is an initiative of the Peace Organization PAX, Oxfam Novib, Amnesty International, Milieudefensie and World Animal Protection.
For more information or interview requests, please contact: Nick van Bree, email@example.com or +31 6 431 295 96
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