UK banks and insurers blacklist cluster munition makers


The remains of a cluster-mortar stands in a house in the Garita al-Magasha area of the rebel held Libyan city of Misrata on April 16, 2011.


Phil Moore

Major banks and insurers in the United Kingdom have halted business with a dozen companies that make cluster bombs.

An exclusive by the Guardian newspaper reported that Lloyds Banking Group, Aviva, the UK's largest insurer, and the Co-op have halted holding shares in companies that make the controversial weapons.

The banks and insurers have purged nearly all of the shares of these companies from their portfolios.

The move comes after critical reports of British banks' involvment with companies that made cluster bombs.

A report in the summer the Indepedent criticized the banks and said "The Royal Bank of Scotland, Lloyds TSB, Barclays and HSBC have all provided funding to the makers of cluster bombs, even as international opinion turns against a weapons system that is inherently indiscriminate and routinely maims or kills civilians."

The institutions were also influenced by the 2008 Oslo convention on cluster munitions and the 1997 Ottawa convention banning anti-personnel landmines, said the Guardian - both of which the United Kingdom has signed.

On top of a number of UK firms, the blacklist also includes the US firms Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics - two of the largest weapons makers in the world.

The Guardian also reported one of the named firms had survey data that said its customers were not happy with the notion of investing in the makers of cluster munitions.

Many US and European banks still invest in companies that make cluster munitions despite the growing controversy against their use.

Belgium, Ireland, Luxembourg and New Zealand are the only countries in the world that have passed laws prohibiting investments in companies that make cluster bombs, reported the AFP.