International Women's Day for Disarmament
International Women's Day for Disarmament
Since 1982, International Women's Day for Disarmament has been marked on 24 May by women around the world calling for the peaceful resolution of conflict, and an end to the horror and devastation of armed conflict; the destruction of the physical environment by peacetime military training and weapons testing; the diversion of financial, human and other resources into military institutions; and to government support for corporations that profit from death and destruction. This year in Aotearoa New Zealand, the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF) is focusing on the NZ Superannuation Fund (Super Fund) investments in nuclear weapons and cluster munitions producing companies.
There are three sections below:
Protest the Super Fund investments in nuclear weapons and cluster munitions production
The Super Fund has a responsible investment policy "which aims to enhance shareholder value and protect the reputation of the Fund through encouraging high standards of corporate behaviour". Despite this, the Fund invests in a range of companies involved in producing offensive weapons systems, such as nuclear weapons and cluster munitions, including many that overseas pension funds and banks refuse to invest in.
Even though the NZ Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament, and Arms Control Act, 1987, states it is an offence for anyone to aid or abet "any person to manufacture, acquire, possess, or have control over any nuclear explosive device" within or beyond the NZ Nuclear Free Zone, the Fund has investments in companies involved in nuclear weapons production and deployment such as Lockheed Martin $21,850,772*, Northrop Grumman Corp. $22,490,337, Honeywell International $13,914,219, BAE Systems Plc $6,154,252, and EADS Co - $2,660,672 (*Fund investment at 30 June 2007, the most recent figures available).
While the Fund has announced it intends to divest from companies involved in cluster munitions production, there are concerns about how and when this will be done - these companies include Lockheed Martin as above, Raytheon Co. $2,294,974, Poongsan Corp. $1,582,636, Thales S.A. $657,428, and Hanwha Corp. $139,445. International Women's Day for Disarmament this year falls right in the middle of the Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions, where the text of the international convention banning cluster munitions will be negotiated and most likely adopted - the Conference will be held from 19 to 30 May in Dublin, Ireland.
No WARP! petition: End government support for military exports
Following a more favourable than expected response from the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee last year, the No WARP! (Network Opposed to Weapons and Related Production) petition has just been re-launched in time for International Women's Day for Disarmament.
The text begins: "To the House of Representatives: Every day, on average, global military expenditure is more than (US) $3.2 billion, while close to 29,000 children under the age of five die from mainly preventable causes; including lack of access to clean water, food and basic health care. To provide clean water for 2.6 billion people and save an estimated 4,000 lives each day would cost just (US) $7 billion - less than two and a half days of global military expenditure. We, the undersigned, are appalled that the New Zealand government contributes to this deplorable situation by funding and promoting companies involved in military and weapons related production and export." - the full text, and printable petition form, is available here; if you have any difficulty opening or printing the petition form, please email and we will post copies to you.
Where you can get more information
- Investing in whose future? NZ Super Fund invests in cluster munitions, nuclear weapons and human rights violations, No WARP! leaflet, April 2008 - if you would like printed copies of this leaflet, please email and let us know your postal address and how many copies you would like
- Photos from the Super Fund protests on 18 April 2008 - Auckland, organised (and photos) by Investment Watch Aotearoa New Zealand - Wellington, organised by WILPF and Peace Movement Aotearoa, photos by Mary Wareham, Oxfam NZ.