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Swiss companies are still funding cluster bombs

A number of Swiss financial institutions have been criticised for continuing to invest in cluster bomb manufacturing.

According to a report published on Wednesday, 16 companies – big banks Credit Suisse and UBS in particular – are among 166 financial institutions worldwide that are funding cluster bomb and parts manufacturing, despite the international Convention on Cluster Munitions coming into force in 2010.

Globally financial institutions from 15 countries are channeling more than $39 billion (SFr34.2 billion) into eight bomb and part manufacturers, states the report by the organisations Pax Christi  and Netwerk Vlaanderen published on Wednesday. Most are based in the United States.

The Swiss companies involved include banks, asset management funds and reinsurers.

Both UBS and Credit Suisse have said a process of withdrawing from investments is underway, arguing that it’s difficult to differentiate between investments in big conglomerates that are involved in civil and military action.

But Handicap International spokesman Paul Vermeulen said their responses were inadequate.

Switzerland signed the international treaty which aims to stop the production of cluster bombs along with 107 other nations in 2008, but it has yet to be ratified by parliament.

Under the treaty it is illegal to fund the production of such arms, Swiss senator Liliane Maury Pasquier said at a news conference on Wednesday, adding: “Money is the driver of war. Financing such arms should be banned.”

The cabinet is due to present its view on ratification of the treaty to parliament by the end of the year.

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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR