Nobel Winners Urge BNP Paribas to End Support for Nuclear Weapons

Image: Lize Kraan

September 26, 2018

Actions around the world challenge the US$8 billion nuclear weapons related investments.

PAX was on the streets this morning in front of the BNP Paribas office in Amsterdam, joining simultaneous protests in more than a dozen countries. The current Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN), is conducting a global day of action to urge BNP Paribas to withdraw their $8 billion support for nuclear weapons producing companies. The production of nuclear weapons may become illegal under international law.

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, PAX and ICAN want BNP Paribas to make its policy matter and stop investing in nuclear weapons producers. The bank does have a policy restricting investment in companies associated with the production of nuclear weapons, but nonetheless it has provided US$8 billion in financing to 16 nuclear weapons producing companies in the last 4 years.

A changing world
“The ‘bank for a changing world’ has the opportunity to deliver real change and contribute to a nuclear-free world,” says ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn. “They are investing in weapons that are inhumane and violate humanitarian law and the laws of war. They are neither a sound nor ethical investment.”

Susi Snyder of Pax, who is running the global day of action with ICAN, says, “BNP should immediately publish their exclusion list and increase transparency about where they are and aren’t investing. A leader in sustainable investment shouldn’t have anything to hide.”

Ban treaty
The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which was adopted by the UN in July 2017 and will enter into force once a further 35 states join the 15 who have already ratified it, bans any type of assistance with the production or manufacture of nuclear weapons –  including financing the companies involved. Another four states will ratify the Treaty today in a ceremony at the UN, bringing the total to 19 and making it on pace to become international law next year.

“If BNP Paribas wants real change in the world, it should fix its policy by referencing complete prohibition on all forms of assistance with nuclear weapons under the UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons,” says PAX’s Snyder. 

The protests today are calling on BNP Paribas to:

  1. Increase Transparency. BNP Paribas uses a list of controversial companies to avoid investment. However, this list is private. As a first step, BNP Paribas should make this list public. 
  2. Fix the policy. BNP Paribas already has a policy restricting investment in companies associated with the production of nuclear weapons. However, the policy is a failure. It can be fixed by changing the reference from the Non Proliferation Treaty (allowing them to invest in companies associated with the arsenals of China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US) to the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (so they can’t invest in any nuclear weapon associated company, anywhere), and applying the policy to all financial products and services it offers- including things like asset management.
  3. Divest. BNP Paribas has a number of long-term investments in nuclear weapons producing companies, and it can take time to fully disinvest, but it can announce that it will not participate in any new financial relationships with any nuclear weapon producing company and will increase the level of engagement with current companies to encourage them to stop making the key components for nuclear weapons.

For more on today’s actions, see 
Tell BNP to Stop Investing in Nuclear Weapons

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