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July 10, 2012
Investors Call for a Meaningful Arms Treaty
    by Robert Kropp

A coalition of 39 institutional signatories to the Principles for Responsible Investment issues a statement arguing that the absence of an Arms Trade Treaty affects investment by negatively impacting both the global economy and companies.


United Nations member states are convened in New York City this month, negotiating a global Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). "United Nations Peacekeeping alone costs the world $7 billion per year, and the global annual burden of armed violence stands at $400 billion," the Conference on the Arms Trade Treaty has stated. "Without adequate regulation of international arms transfers and high common standards to guide national export decisions, the human tolls and financial costs will remain colossal."

In addition to negotiating an ATT, the Conference also seeks to expand the UN Register of Conventional Arms transfers between countries, and address the illicit trade in small arms.

As reported here last July, a coalition of institutional investors representing assets of more than $1.2 trillion called for passage of a legally binding treaty which could "reduce financial risk from negative social impacts and protect our reputation linked to investment decisions and practices."

As negotiation got underway last week, the coalition—now grown to include 39 signatories to the United Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) with $3 trillion in assets under management—has issued an updated statement, calling for "a strong, legally binding and comprehensive Arms Trade Treaty."

Irresponsible supplies of conventional weapons, the letter argues, can lead to human rights violations, exacerbate international and internal conflicts, and support corruption. "Without a stronger global conventional arms control system, there are clear regulatory and reputational risks for companies in the defense industry and/or arms importing," the letter states.

The coalition of investors recommends that a treaty prevent the transfer of arms when there is a risk of human rights violations; prevent the transfer of conventional arms and ammunitions; adopt consistent sanctions; and require the reporting of all arms transfers.

Calvert Investments is a signatory to the statement. Bennett Freeman, the firm's Senior Vice President for Sustainability Research and Policy, stated, "We believe that the negotiation process should be open and transparent. Interested stakeholders should have as much access as deemed appropriate to the negotiations, as their perspectives can inform and clarify debates as well as help to identify solutions."

 

 
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