Humanity has successfully banned and eliminated less devastating weapons, but curiously we have come to live with the idea that some countries are entitled to keep nuclear weapons. Worse, we have come to accept that their production is nothing to be ashamed of and that investing in these companies is sound financial practice.
Investing in genocide is inexcusable, and it is time we tell our banks, pension funds, and insurance companies to stop financing the bomb.
To that end, the Dutch peace organization PAX, for which I’m a senior researcher, produces an annual report called Don’t Bank on the Bomb, providing a detailed overview of financial institutions that invest in companies building nuclear weapons. But the report does more: It highlights positive examples of financial institutions actively divesting from nuclear weapons producers, showing that divestment is not only a feasible strategy but also a socially responsible and ethically sound way to watch over the money of clients. Divesting from nuclear weapons is not rocket science.
Campaigning for divestment helps to curtail and eliminate nuclear weapons in more than one way. First, it helps to further stigmatize nuclear weapons. Most people are unaware that their savings help to finance the bomb, and when this is pointed out to them, most people are uneasy or even appalled by the idea. By providing customers with the facts, we stimulate their readiness to take it up with their banks and pension funds and give them notice to divest from these inhumane weapons. This stigmatization of nuclear weapons is more important than we may think. No weapon has ever been eliminated before it was outlawed. And no weapon is outlawed without first becoming stigmatized.