New step forward in campaign against cluster bombs – Ball now in Dutch government's court

2 March 2007

New step forward in campaign against cluster bombs – Ball now in Dutch government's court

SP Member of Parliament Krista Van Velzen describes herself as “delighted” that Belgium, in the wake of its ban on the production or possession of cluster bombs, has now made it illegal to provide finance for companies or individuals carrying out these activities. The SP has in the recent past conducted a campaign against the banks ING and ABN AMRO and their investment, albeit indirect, in these highly controversial weapons. Happily the banks have now announced changes in their policy with regard to the matter, but to date the Dutch government has lagged in its response. Van Velzen is determined to see this change.

Krista van Velzen Prompted by the decision by ABN AMRO and ING to conduct their business in a more socially responsible fashion, Ms Van Velzen has put forward a number of motions aimed at persuading the cabinet to take the same steps. To date any change in policy has been refused, but Van Velzen hopes to see the Netherlands introduce a ban on production, as well as destroying its own stocks. In addition, the government should follow the Belgian example and halt the financing by banks of companies involved in the production, use or storage of cluster bombs.

Cluster-type munitions are still permitted internationally, and the Netherlands has its own stock. However, last month forty-six countries, including the Netherlands, met in Oslo and agreed to work towards a ban. “It's still not clear what the positive noise which came out of Oslo might mean,” Van Velzen says. “But it seems to me that a ban on financing would be one of the logical consequences of the agreement.”

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