The financial factor: Campaigns against the role of Banks and Export Credit Agencies in financing arms trade

Strategy meeting for campaigners

Ghent, Belgium, 13 may 2006

An European Network Against the Arms Trade meeting, open to interested groups and campaigners.

 

Program

[Friday-evening 12 May, from 7PM onwards: Video’s on campaigns against financing arms trade and informal meeting]

Saturday 13 May 2006:
Workshops about: The links between private financial institutions / governmental Export Credit Agencies and the arms industry. European Campaigns against investments in the arms industry, their strategy and successes.

[Sunday 14 May 2006, AM : ENAAT business meeting]

Background

Throughout Europe, peace organisations, bankwatch organisations, and other ngo’s run campaigns against the devastating investments and subsidies in arms production and arms exports. The European Network Against Arms Trade organises a meeting in spring 2006 to network, exchange experiences and share ideas about these campaigns. ENAAT wants to enforce the existing campaigns and stimulate ngo’s who are not yet focusing on banks or export credit agencies, to start campaigning on this issue.

Private financial institutions

One part of the meeting will focus on private financial institutions and arms producers. Organisations like Banca Armata (Italy), Netwerk Vlaanderen (Belgium) and Campaign Against the Arms Trade (UK) are running campaigns against investments in the arms production and trade. Years of actions and lobbying led to considerabele changes in the banks policies on investments in the arms industry.

In Italy, the Campagna Di Banche Armate succeeded in convincing Banca Intesa, the largest Italian bank group, to adopt a stricter and more transparent weapon investment policy. This Italian bank promised to finance virtually no more arms exports. Each weapon export that is financed by the bank will be decided by the CEO and published on the website of the bank.

In Britain, CAAT (Campaign Against Arms Trade) has been running the “Clean Investment Campaign” since 1991. This campaign encourages investors to end investments in large British weapon exporters for ethical reasons. The campaign initially focussed on pension funds of local councils, but was soon expanded to include investors such as charities, religious organisations, universities and trade unions. The campaign has convinced many of these institutional investors to withdraw from weapon producers such as BAE Systems.

Other organisations like Spas (Sweden) work on the investments of Pension Funds.

Since October 2003, the bank watch organisation Netwerk Vlaanderen (B), and the peace organisations Vrede, Forum voor Vredesactie and For Mother Earth have been running a campaign against the investment of Belgian bank groups in weapons. Under pressure from the campaign “My Money. Clear Conscience?” four large bank groups have scaled down their investments in weapon producers. First of all, they distanced themselves from the investments in anti-personnel mines, but a few of the banks decided to also exclude other weapons, e.g. nuclear arms, cluster munitions and weapons with depleted uranium. At the same time, there was also political movement. Belgium became the first country in the world to forbid investment funds from investing in the producers of anti-personnel mines.

During the meeting, these campaigns and their strategies, research methods and positive results will be presented, with room for an in dept discussion and exchange. A representative of an ethical screeningburo will talk about the impact these campaigns have on the financial world. The Dutch ngo BankTrack will present an international overview of financial activism and bank advocacy.

Export Credit Agencies

The other part of the meeting will focus on the Export Credit Agencies (ECA’s) and their policies on arms exports to developing countries. The impact of on the growth of irresponsible corporate globalization and national debt in the global south export credit agencies is as big – if not bigger – than better-known institutions like theWorld Bank and the WTO. A considerable amount of their credits is for arms exports, out of all credits possibly the worst …

Throughout Europe, credit agencies have different policies on transparancy and arms exports. Some ECA’s don’t provide any information on the credits they provide at all. In Finland, a campaign and a court case resulted in the necessary transparancy.

The Austrian Credit Agency does not give credits for arms exports at all. In Belgium to the contrary, up to 20 % of the value of all the export credits are meant for arms exports. During the meeting in Ghent we will present the report on the different European ECA’s and their policies on arms exports, exchange information, share ideas, strategies and aims and discuss possibilities for joint action.

Contact for more information

Mich Crols (Forum voor Vredesactie): mich@vredesactie.be tel: +32/3-2816839
Christophe Scheire (Netwerk Vlaanderen): christophe@netwerk-vlaanderen.be tel: +32/2-2010770
Martin Broek, Marijn Peperkamp (Campagne tegen Wapenhandel): m.peperkamp@stopwapenhandel.org tel: +31 20-6164684