Cluster Bombs and banks - a booming business

Cluster bombs have been the topic of the day for us today here in the press office.  You may have already seen the story running in todays Independent, where we reveal exclusively how some UK high street banks, including the Royal Bank of Scotland and Barclays, are investing in companies which produce cluster munitions or their components. This is in spite of a law passed by the UK government in March last year banning the production, trade and assistance of making cluster munitions.  Interestingly, in spite of this law, investment into cluster munition production isnt considered to be assistance in the making of the weapons.  I find that particularly odd. However as a result of that loophole within the law, financial institutions here continue to invest in companies which are linked to making cluster bombs and / or their parts. Film-maker Chris Atkins has produced a great short for Amnesty TVs new episode Booming Business which you can view here. In it, Chris travels to Laos the country worst affected by cluster bombs where he meets men and women who are still affected by cluster bombs decades after the war in VietnamThats the thing about cluster bombs.  The impact of the submunitions (their bomblets) can last for up to several years after they are initially dropped. Cluster bombs are normally fired from the air and spread over an expansive area.  However because of their indiscriminate nature, it can take years before these weapons actually detonate. Research has shown that 90 per cent of all people killed, maimed or seriously injured by cluster bombs are innocent civilians, with one in three of those injured or killed being children. This is just one of the reasons why these deadly indiscriminate weapons were banned by the UK last year and a global treaty banning them was agreed in 2008 and entered into force in August last year. It seems so incongruous, therefore, that banks in the UK are able to invest in companies which make these weapons.  Its true that theres no law which bans the indirect investment of these weapons (therefore investment to cluster munition manufacturers).  But surely in allowing such investments, there is a real risk of the UK (and global law) being made a sham? To find out more and  take action, visit www.amnesty.org.uk/rbs

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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