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AXA disinvests from landmines and cluster munitions

Important first step - full coverage and transparency needed
By Netwerk Vlaanderen | Brussels, Jul 18 2007
In a official communication AXA announes to pull out investments of companies that produce anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. [1] This is surprising good news from the Paris headquarters of this bank-insurance company. For last years AXA has shown heavy reluctance to adopt stricter weapon investment policies.

One step ahead
The decision by AXA to disinvest from anti-personnel mines dates from 2006. AXA claims to have fully implemented this policy now. Disinvesting from cluster munition producers is a new move in the AXA investment policy. The group refers to the emerging international consensus around a ban on cluster bombs and to the ‘Oslo process’. This initiative by Norway already managed to get more than seventy countries working on an international treaty against cluster munitions.

Campaigns are successful
The campaign ‘My Money. Clear Conscience?’ by Netwerk Vlaanderen, Vrede, Vredesactie and Friends of the Earth Flanders & Brussels has now managed to convince all five most prominent banks in Belgium to disinvest from anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. But not merely Belgian organisations raised the pressure on AXA. In 2006 Amnesty International FR and Handicap International FR started campaigning against these investments. In March 2007 both NGO’s even decided to break up their insurance contracts with AXA.

Limited responsibility
This new policy by Axa is an important step ahead. But AXA still doesn’t take its full responsibility. This exclusion policy only covers AXA’s direct investments. The general account insurance assets, including the invested insurance premiums, will no longer be invested in producers of anti-personnel mines and cluster munitions. But an investor buying shares of an AXA investment fund has no reason to be at ease. Such investments ‘on behalf of third parties’ are not covered by the new policy. Through AXA investment funds investments in producers like Lockheed Martin, ATK and Raytheon will go on. And this is not a minor exception. In 2006 52% of AXA’s € 1,315 billion assets under management were ‘on behalf of third parties. So the new policy merely covers half of AXA’s investments.

Transparency needed
Above that there is still a lack of transparency at AXA. The group just states it’s policy on anti personnel mines is fully implemented. But no information on the identified and excluded companies is published. AXA claims to use independent experts to assist in identifying producers. But a public ‘black list’ is needed to be able to fully assess and control AXA’s new policy.

[1] AXA: Communication - 2007

Christophe Scheire
Netwerk Vlaanderen vzw -
Vooruitgangstraat 333/9
1030 Brussels
Tel. +32/2/201 07 70
Fax. +32/2/201 06 02

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