Swiss pension funds face cluster bomb investment ban

Parliamentary bills look to ratify Oslo Convention.

Switzerland has moved closer to banning investment in cluster munitions in a move which could oblige the country’s pension funds to dump any related company shares, following the passing of two motions in the Swiss Parliament.
Two separate bills, brought by the country’s Socialist and Liberal parties, were approved by Members of Parliament (MPs). Motion sponsor, Hugues Hiltpold, said “Switzerland must give a clear sign about its adherence to the Ottawa and Oslo accords and clearly ban the financing of cluster munitions.” Switzerland signed the Oslo Convention on Cluster Munitions in December 2008. Other signatories including Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand have all banned investment in cluster munitions producers. Legislation is also being drawn up in Denmark and Norway. In a similar vote in the Netherlands late last year, Dutch MPs voted to prohibit Dutch financial institutions such as pension funds and banks from investing in cluster bomb manufacturers.
In December, 2008, The New Zealand Superannuation Fund, sold holdings in six companies it said wereinvolved in the manufacture of cluster munitions: Goodrich Corporation, L-3 Communications, Northrup Grumman, Poonsang Corporation, Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. One MP in the Swiss debate, Roland Borer of the Swiss Workers’ Party, asked if pension fund managers would be punished for continuing to hold Raytheon shares. Paul Vermeulen of Handicap International Switzerland, a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition, said: “The Swiss Parliament has sent a clear message it aims to stop the flow of funding to weapons that kill and maim civilians; weapons such as landmines and cluster bombs that are banned under national and international law.” He added: “We look forward to finalising legislation that will prevent civilian casualties while upholding ethical investment practices, and hope that Switzerland will soon honour its commitment to ratify the treaty banning cluster munitions.” Cluster munitions campaign groups IKV Pax Christi and Netwerk Vlaanderen plan to release a new version of their “Worldwide investments in cluster munitions – a shared responsibility” in Geneva next month.