RBS U-turn on cluster bombs

By agency reporter
2 Sep 2011

Amnesty International has welcomed the Royal Bank of Scotland’s announcement that it will stop investing in companies which produce cluster bombs. The bank also announced its commitment to work with other banks and the UK government to establish guidelines which would stop British banks from investing in cluster bomb producing companies in the future.

Following intense campaigning by Amnesty International, RBS has agreed to cease its investment in companies which are known producers of cluster munitions.

The bank has also promised to cut any links with companies involved in producing these deadly weapons, which are banned under UK law. Previously, RBS - which is majority owned by the UK taxpayer - had repeatedly insisted that it did not invest in cluster munitions manufacturers.

Since Amnesty International launched its campaign on 16 August, more than 10,000 people have emailed Stephen Hester, the CEO of RBS, to demand that the company stop investing in cluster munitions producing companies.

Amnesty also invited public donations to fund an advertising campaign to reveal RBS’s investment in companies which produce the banned cluster munitions which received overwhelming public support.

Amnesty International’s Arms Programme Director Oliver Sprague said:“It is good news that RBS have decided to cease investing in companies which produce cluster bombs.

“The effects of cluster bombs are utterly horrific and so many RBS customers were outraged to find their bank was in any way involved in funding companies implicated in their production.

“The swift and immense reaction to our campaign has underscored the public revulsion at banks’ behaviour. A code of conduct which prevents any bank from investing in this way again, would obviously be the right move.

“It is a shame that it took this level of public outcry for a bank with such a high profile to decide to cease any involvement and investment in companies which produce these brutal, outlawed bombs.

“But we are glad that they have decided to make this commitment and hope to work with them, and the UK government, on drawing up a binding code of conduct.

He concluded, “It just goes to show that the biggest of businesses have to listen when you make enough noise.”

[Ekk/4]

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