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Super Fund's move to divest from cluster bombs

Oxfam welcomes NZ Super Fund's move to divest from cluster bomb production

Oxfam New Zealand welcomes today's announcement by the New Zealand Superannuation Fund that it will take measures to divest from companies engaged in the production of cluster munitions. The use of this deadly explosive weapon has resulted in the deaths and maiming of innocent civilians in several conflicts, most recently in Lebanon in 2006.

"We are pleased that the Super Fund has heeded the demands of New Zealand taxpayers that their pension savings not be used to support companies involved in the production of cluster bombs," said Mary Wareham, Advocacy Director of Oxfam New Zealand and Coordinator of the Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition. "Our country's reputation as a disarmament leader was coming dangerously close to being deeply tarnished by the Super Fund's investment."

The divestment move follows similar steps taken by pension funds in Ireland and Norway. According to The Irish Times (19 March 2008), Ireland's National Pensions Reserve Fund) is preparing to withdraw EUR27 million in investments from six companies involved in the production of cluster munitions. The powerful Norwegian Government Pension Fund, worth US$450 billion, has divested from companies engaged in the production of cluster munitions, nuclear weapons, and other weapons that through normal use may violate fundamental humanitarian principles.

"It's critical that this divestment move form part of a larger package of measures," said Wareham. "We call on the Super Fund to review its entire investment portfolio to ensure that it does not invest in any other companies that breach ethical standards."

The New Zealand Superannuation Fund has been criticised for its investment in companies that engaged in the production of nuclear weapons as well as companies that violate the rights of indigenous and other peoples in developing countries.

"New Zealand should promote this positive divestment initiative with other countries as part of the government's effort to build support for the complete eradication of cluster munitions," said Wareham.

Together with Ireland and Norway, the New Zealand government is at the forefront of a bold initiative to establish a strong international treaty in 2008 to prohibit cluster munitions. In February 2008, the government hosted the Wellington Conference on Cluster Munitions, which resulted in a declaration endorsed by 86 governments committing them to secure the treaty through negotiations due to be held in Dublin, Ireland in May. The agreement will then be opened for signature in Oslo, Norway later in the year.


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