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Transparency call Nobel Foundation accused of indirect nuclear arms investments

ICAN activists protest in 2012 against investments in nuclear weapons

(Keystone)

The Swiss-based winner of the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has called on the Nobel Foundationexternal link to be more transparent about how it invests its money. This follows allegations that the body has indirectly invested in companies linked to the United States’ nuclear arms programme.

Last month, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weaponsexternal link (ICAN) received the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts in the process to bring about a global treaty to ban nuclear arms.

But the German NGO Facing Finance, together with Norwegian environmental organisation Framtiden and German television channel ZDF, have uncovered evidence that the Nobel Foundation has invested in an index fund that includes Lockheed Martin, Textron and Raytheon. All three companies have been active in US nuclear weapons manufacturing.

Geneva-based ICAN has its own investment tracker called Don’t Bank on the Bomb, which encourages investors to publicly divest from companies associated with the production of nuclear weapons. But this system looks specifically at financial sector investments, and does not reveal individual investors.

ICAN Executive Director Beatrice Fihn called on the foundation to open its books more fully to public scrutiny.

“There are public reports that the Nobel Foundation has an ethical investment policy not to invest in weapons prohibited by international treaty, and we encourage the Nobel Foundation to be more public and transparent about how they implement this policy,” she said in an email to swissinfo.ch.

New direction

ICAN will officially receive the Nobel Peace Prize on December 10. Fihn said that ICAN would use the prize “to strengthen the work of prohibiting and eliminating nuclear weapons”. 

In an emailed response to swissinfo.ch, the Nobel Foundation said it invested in funds rather than picking specific companies. Since the beginning of the year, it has changed its investment policy to find “more sustainable alternatives to our equity index funds”.

“Today, the Nobel Foundation has clear guidelines regarding ethics and sustainability. No new investments are made in funds that invest in companies that violate international conventions regarding, for example, land mines or cluster bombs, or who have investments in nuclear weapons,” Nobel Foundation Executive Director Lars Heikensten told swissinfo.ch.

“Our current investments are being investigated based on these guidelines. In addition, we have joined the UN initiative Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI), and have thereby incorporated environmental, social and governance factors into our investment decisions.”

He added that the foundation was “considering using our position to make active investments in sustainable projects and in this way, make a real difference”.

 

swissinfo.ch/mga

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