Denmark and some 110 other countries have joined the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which bans the use of the munitions, calls for the destruction of stockpiles and clearance of areas that have been affected.
But while use of the munitions is banned, investment in them is not, and Business and Trade Minister Annette Vilhelmsen is now looking to introduce legislation that will prevent investment in cluster bombs and anti-personnel mines.
“Denmark has signed conventions that ban all use of land mines and cluster bombs. But that does not prevent investment in the same weapons. I will now make sure that Danish investments are not used in the production of these weapons, Vilhelmsen says.
“Personally I would like to be sure that my pension funds are not being invested in cluster bombs,” she says.
The minister says that the Council for Social Responsibility, which has been set up to advise the government on the social responsibility of companies and authorities, is to investigate the extent of investments and suggest how legislation could be worded. The legislation could be along the lines of similar laws in Belgium and the Netherlands, both of whom already have legislation in place, Vilhelmsen says.
“This is a welcome step,” says DanChurchAid Mine Clearance Head Richard MacCormac.
“It’s about time too, when you think that Denmark introduced a ban on the use of these weapons some time ago,” he says.
Denmark has ratified two relevant conventions – the 1997 Ottawa Landmine Treaty and the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions.
In the light of the 2008 convention, former Conservative Economy and Trade Minister Brian Mikkelsen (Cons) introduced guidelines for responsible investment in 2010, but the guide suggested that as a rule, a ban on certain investments was not a good idea.
DanChurchAid says that the guidance did not have the necessary effect.
“There’s little point in just leaving this issue to the consciences of the investors,” MacCormac says.
Mikkelsen, who is now his party’s business spokesman, does not reject the idea of legislation out of hand, but says he sees many problems.
“In general I am against legislating against investment. The issue of illegal weapons, however, is a grey zone. But I can see a lot of problems of scope and sanctions. I don’t think it is possible,” he says.
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Edited by Julian Isherwood