June 14, 2012 / 6:16 PM / 5 years ago

Activists urge Berlin to ban cluster-bomb investment

BERLIN, June 14 (Reuters) - Germany should ban banks and other financial institutions from investing in companies that manufacture banned cluster bombs, which can kill and injure civilians long after conflicts have ended, activists said in Berlin on Thursday.

German campaign group Facing Finance and the largest Dutch pacifist movement, KV Pax Christi, presented a report in Berlin showing German companies had business relations worth more than $550 million between 2009 and 2012 with munitions producers making cluster bombs.

“This money comes from its multinational financial services company Allianz and the country’s biggest bank, Deutsche Bank,” said Thomas Kuechenmeister from Facing Finance, which campaigns against companies investing in firms that profit from violations of human rights.

Cluster bombs are deployed both from the air and from the ground and release hundreds of smaller bombs, which sometimes fail to explode when they hit the ground. This poses a particular threat to children who can be attracted by their toy-like appearance and bright colours.

The Oslo Convention of 2008 - negotiated outside the United Nations framework by a group of countries keen to get quick action on the weapons - banned their use, production and transfer and laid down timetables for stockpile destruction.

The Bundestag, or lower house, failed to approve a motion to ban cluster bombs earlier this year. But Gerhrard Schick, a member of parliament for the German Greens, said his party planned to present the bill again soon to bring Germany in line with the Oslo Convention.

Asked about the report, a spokesman for Deutsche Bank told Reuters the bank had started a campaign in 2008 called ‘No Go Policy’ against financing the production, distribution and trade of cluster bombs, a policy which was further tightened in 2011.

“Deutsche Bank can only enter new contracts with these companies when they decidedly commit themselves to leave this business area. However, contracts stipulated from before this policy became effective are obviously still fulfilled,” the spokesman said.

Allianz has followed the same path.

“Since January last year the public funds of AllianzGI Europe cannot invest in producers of cluster munitions and those funds were respectively reorganised. Investments of this sort will be also ruled out from the investments of Allianz’s insurance funds through a guideline,” said an Allianz spokesman.

“If countries around Germany like Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg and in the near future Switzerland and the Netherlands can do it, so can Germany,” KV Pax Christi’s Roos Boer told reporters in Berlin. (Reporting By Elisa Oddone; Editing by Stephen Brown and Jon Hemming)

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