ABN-AMRO withdraws investment from cluster bomb manufacturer following SP actions

20 February 2004

ABN-AMRO withdraws investment from cluster bomb manufacturer following SP actions

In response to months of actions from the SP, ABN-AMRO have announced that they have withdrawn all investment from the British cluster bomb manufacturer Insys. Co-ordinator of the actions, Member of Parliament Krista van Velzen, who describes herself as “overjoyed” by this success, said: “I’d like to congratulate everyone who took part in the actions on their victory, but also the management of ABN-AMRO on their decision. It is now up to the government to get cluster bombs banned internationally.”

Since the beginning of 2003 the SP has conducted dozens of small-scale actions at branches of the bank in order to let its customers know that their savings are being invested in a firm which makes cluster bombs. Cluster bombs disperse thousands of small grenades, destroying everything and everyone in an area the size of several football fields. The use of cluster bombs in Kosovo en Afghanistan created a huge number of civilian casualties. Some of the fragmentary grenades fail to explode immediately and can be set off some time later, for example by agricultural machinery or by children playing. According to the code of conduct signed by the bank, from the beginning of 2004 ABN-AMRO has undertaken to refrain from financing projects damaging to the environment or public health, or any which have undesirable social consequences.

Cluster bombs perform in effect the same function as anti-personnel mines, but because this is “only” a secondary effect and not their main purpose, they do not come under the Land Mine Convention signed in 1999 by a large number of countries, including the Netherlands. “The fact that ABN-AMRO has turned out to be responsive to pressure from the SP to the extent that it has withdrawn its investment from Insys is one more reason to put the government under pressure to bring about an international ban on cluster bombs,” Van Velzen added. “Such a ban won’t be so easy to achieve, because it is for the most part countries in the west which have a stake in trade in this type of weapon. These bombs fit with the general trend towards the ability to conduct wars without suffering appreciable losses of our own. Losses on the other side, whether combatants or civilians, don’t count, or we describe them as ‘collateral damage’. We are glad that ABN-AMRO has accepted its responsibility. It’s time for the government to follow suit and devote itself to achieving an international ban on the production and use of cluster bombs.”

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