Socially responsible investment firms NEI Investments and Desjardins Investments are banning exposure to companies that build cluster munitions in all of their funds.
The firms said Tuesday that their existing socially responsible investment funds already avoid cluster munitions, which are artillery shells that open in mid-flight to release hundreds of “bomblets” that disperse over a large area and hit targets indiscriminately. The bomblets are a concern because they can look like toys to children, or like air-dropped aid packages, which then may detonate injuring or killing civilians.
While their existing SRI funds already avoided companies that build these sorts of arms, Tuesday’s announcement extends that exclusion to all of their conventional fund families.
The firms note that recently passed federal legislation makes it illegal for Canadians to make, use, or trade so-called cluster bombs. And, they report that the government has indicated that this ban extends to knowingly investing in a cluster munitions manufacturer.
“These are indiscriminate and abhorrent weapons, responsible for thousands of civilian deaths,” said John Kearns, CEO of NEI Investments, in a news release. “The implications of the new cluster munitions act have not been widely discussed in the investment industry, but as responsible investment leaders we want to demonstrate how you can exclude these weapons from the entire investment universe.”
“By banning investment in cluster bombs, Desjardins Investments is applying a responsible investment strategy to all Desjardins specialized savings products. With this decision, we reassert a cooperative value: money should be working for people, not the other way around,” said Éric Landry, chief operating officer at Desjardins Investments.
“Cluster munitions are claiming civilian lives in the conflict areas of Syria and eastern Ukraine today, and sub-munitions dropped decades ago in countries like Vietnam and Cambodia continue to cause deaths from delayed detonations. Yet, between 2011 and 2014, financial institutions across the world have invested US $27 billion in producers of these inhumane weapons,” said Paul Hannon, executive director of Mines Action Canada. “We applaud financial institutions taking a stand against cluster munitions, and ask their peers to do the same by introducing policies to ensure they are not supporting companies involved in the production of these illegal weapons.”