by Nick Mele
Pax Christi USA Working Group on Nuclear Disarmament
Ed. Note: On January 22, the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons will enter into force. This is the third in a series exploring different aspects of the issue in relation to the treaty taking effect. Read the first article here and the second one here.
“Follow the money.” First introduced to popular culture in the Watergate film All The President’s Men, that phrase evolved into a byword for corruption. Now that the Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons is coming into force as international law, “follow the money” has become good advice for activists seeking total nuclear disarmament.
The Treaty to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons enters into force later this month. This will impose new legal restrictions on financial institutions that fund nuclear weapons. The treaty’s becoming law offers many opportunities to discourage banks, pension funds and stock brokers from investing in nuclear weapons. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons stresses disinvestment as a natural next step toward total abolition that is enabled and reinforced by the ban treaty taking effect as international law.
For the countries that sign the treaty, anything to do with nuclear weapons, including investment, becomes illegal; for the rest of the world, entry into force means that public pressure increases on governments and businesses that engage in any way with nuclear weapons. The opportunities to publicize excessive spending on these weapons of mass destruction, an existential threat to humankind, increase greatly. Some ideas already being put into practice are disinvestment campaigns, vigils outside the offices of financial institutions which invest in nuclear weapons, and advocacy campaigns that stress the legal risks of investing in nuclear weapons. Pax Christi local groups should urge our home dioceses to disinvest from companies that develop, manufacture or otherwise contribute to nuclear arsenals.
Two websites offer information about the disinvestment and other campaigns aimed at financial institutions. Don’t Bank on the Bomb (www.dontbankonthebomb.com) is a campaign and website created by PAX, the national Pax Christi section of The Netherlands; Nuclear Ban US (nuclearban.us) is an ICAN affiliate in this country which has presented a plan, Warheads to Windmills, to use money now spent on U.S. nuclear forces to fund the Green New Deal. Both sites offer information about companies that invest in nuclear weapons. (Don’t Bank on the Bomb has a Wall of Shame for companies that profit from nuclear weapons and a Hall of Fame for those that have disinvested.) Please visit both and create your own actions and advocacy to discourage investment in nuclear weapons and the systems that “deliver” them!