Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Cluster bombs operate by ejecting smaller sub-munitions or "bomblets" that can saturate an area of several football fields. (Photo: vaXzine/flickr/cc)

US Banks Top Cluster Bomb Investment 'Hall of Shame': Report

Bank of America, JP Morgan among 74 of 158 financial institutions that invest in companies producing internationally banned weapons

Nadia Prupis

Despite the international ban on cluster bombs, more than 150 financial institutions have invested $28 billion in companies that produce them, according to a new report released Thursday.

Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, and Wells Fargo are among the 158 banks, pension funds, and other firms listed in the "Hall of Shame" compiled by the Netherlands-based organization PAX, a member of the Cluster Munition Coalition (CMC).

The report, titled Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility (pdf), finds that the leading investors come from 14 countries including the U.S., the UK, and Canada. Of the top 10 overall investors, the U.S. is home to eight. Japan and China round out the last two.

Both the UK and Canada—along with France, Germany, and Switzerland, whose institutions are also named on the list—have signed the 2008 Oslo treaty known as the Convention on Cluster Munitions banning the use of the indiscriminate bombs under international law.

The U.S., which hosts by far the most companies on the list with 74, is not a signatory.

Cluster bombs, which can be launched from the air or ground, operate by ejecting smaller sub-munitions or "bomblets" that can saturate an area of several football fields, according to CMC. They can remain volatile long after a conflict ends.

"Financial institutions must stop turning a blind eye to the lethal consequences of their investments," said CMC ambassador Branislav Kapetanović, who survived a cluster bomb in Serbia 16 years ago. "Cluster munitions are being used in Yemen and Syria, causing significant civilian casualties including among children and women. All banks and financial institutions must prohibit investment in companies that produce these indiscriminate weapons."

One type of cluster bomb, produced by the U.S.-based company Textron, has been used by the Saudi Arabia-led coalition in Yemen since March 2015, the report states, citing research by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

Some of the countries listed in the report have adopted legislation (pdf) that bans certain forms of investment in cluster bombs, including Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Samoa, Spain, and Switzerland. Others have "made an interpretive statement that investments in cluster munitions are or can be seen as prohibited by the Convention on Cluster Munitions."

But more needs to be done, PAX said, noting that its recommendations "all come down to one simple message: disinvest from producers of cluster munitions now!"

For financial firms, that means ending any connection to cluster bomb manufacturers on every level—commercial banking, investment banking, and asset management, the report states.

It continues: "Financial institutions should develop policies that exclude all financial links with companies involved in cluster munitions production. Because all investment facilitates this production, no exceptions should be made for third-party financial services, for funds that follow an index, or for civilian project financing for a company also involved in cluster munitions."

Co-author Suzanne Oosterwijk said, "It is an outrage that so many financial institutions have no qualms about investing in companies that make banned cluster munitions," though she noted that some companies have made proactive steps to end those links.

"We commend these financial institutions for halting their investments and encourage others to follow suit," she said.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

House Democrats Request 'Damage Assessment' Following Recovery of Classified Docs

"Former President Trump's conduct has potentially put our national security at grave risk," Reps. Carolyn Maloney and Adam Schiff wrote to Director of National Intelligence Avril Haines.

Kenny Stancil ·


Violent Threats Against FBI Soar as Trump Lies About Mar-a-Lago Search

Menacing messages posted online "include a threat to place a so-called dirty bomb in front of FBI Headquarters" and "general calls for 'civil war' and 'armed rebellion,'" officials warned.

Kenny Stancil ·


'Biggest Win for Tax Fairness' in Decades: Progressives Cheer Reforms in IRA, Demand More

"While this bill establishes desperately needed changes to our tax laws and IRS funding, it is still a far cry from the systemic changes that we need in our society to rectify the hold the rich still have on every level of our economy."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Care Can't Wait': IRA a Good Start, Progressives Say, But More Is Needed

"Americans deserve a full loaf of bread," said health justice advocate Ady Barkan.

Kenny Stancil ·


'I'm Back': Fetterman Returns to Campaign Trail Following May Stroke

"I'm not only grateful to be alive, but also for the campaign we're building together," said the Democratic nominee for Pennsylvania's open U.S. Senate seat.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo