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International Women's Day for Disarmament 2008

16 May 2008

International Women's Day for Disarmament 2008: Protests, petition and information

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: 1) details of the simultaneous protests at the Super Fund offices in Auckland and Wellington on Friday, 23 May; 2) the 'End government support for military exports' petition which has just been re-launched for International Women's Day for Disarmament; and 3) some links to where you can get more information about the Super Fund investments, and about women and disarmament. This message will be available online at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/iwdd08.htm later today.

1) 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.

- Join the protest in Auckland about these investments: Friday, 23 May, from 4.30pm to 5.30pm, outside the AMP building, on the corner of Custom Street West and Albert Street; for more information, contact email joanmac@pl.net

- Join the protest in Wellington about these investments: Friday, 23 May, 4.30pm to 5.30pm, at the traffic lights at the intersection of Queen's Wharf, Jervois Quay and Grey Street; for more information contact email wilpf@xtra.co.nz

2) 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! 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 at http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nowarpet.pdf If you have any difficulty opening or printing the petition form, please contact email nowarp@xtra.co.nz and we will post copies to you.

3) Where you can get more information

* About the Super Fund investments

'Act now! NZ Superannuation Fund investments in death and destruction', No WARP! (Network Opposed to Weapons and Related Production), April 2008 - http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/nwapr08.pdf

'Investing in whose future? NZ Super Fund invests in cluster munitions, nuclear weapons and human rights violations', No WARP! leaflet, April 2008 - http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/superfund.pdf - if you would like printed copies of this leaflet, please email nowarp@xtra.co.nz and let us know your postal address and how many copies you would like

Aotearoa New Zealand Cluster Munition Coalition - http://www.stopclusterbombs.org.nz

Photos from the Super Fund protests on 18 April 2008: Auckland, organised (and photos) by Investment Watch Aotearoa New Zealand -
http://investmentwatch.wordpress.com/2008/04/22/photosreport-friday-action-at-auckland-super-fund Wellington: organised by WILPF and Peace Movement Aotearoa, photos by Mary Wareham, Oxfam NZ - http://www.flickr.com/photos/anzclusters/sets/72157604598845332

* Resources from International WILPF

'Women and cluster munitions' - http://www.wilpf.int.ch/PDF/DisarmamentPDF/ClusterMunitions/WILPF-Women-and-Cluster-Munitions.pdf

'Ensuring Women and Gender are reflected in the Cluster Munitions Treaty' - http://www.wilpf.int.ch/statements/090508cluster_munitions.html

'You get what you pay for! Disarming for gender equality' - http://www.wilpf.int.ch/PDF/EconomicJustice/YouGetWhatYouPayFor.pdf

Women and disarmament index page - http://www.wilpf.int.ch/disarmament/index.html

PeaceWomen - http://www.peacewomen.org/wpsindex.html

Reaching Critical Will - http://www.reachingcriticalwill.org


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