Belgium: activists demand BNP Paribas divest from nuclear weapons

Activists dressed in white "bio hazard suits" and wearing gas masks hold banners reading "don't invest in nuclear weapons" outside a building with the BNP Paribas logo

On the International Day for the Total Elimination of Nuclear Weapons (26 September), Belgian peace groups took action against the BNP Paribas bank, because of their investments in nuclear weapons. Activists dressed in biohazard suits carried a two metre long nuclear missile to the bank's headquarters in Brussels and distributed letters for people to send to the bank, as a nuclear siren went off in the street. Actions against BNP Paribas also took place in the Netherlands, France, the US, Germany, Spain and New Zealand.

That same day, the Belgian Coalition Against Nuclear Weapons, in collaboration with FairFin and published a new report which exposes how banks in Belgium invest over 17 billion dollars in the 20 biggest nuclear weapons companies in the world. The report shows that BNP Paribas invests nearly 9 billion dollars in companies which produce or maintain nuclear weapons, making it the biggest investor in nuclear weapons of banks active in Belgium.

Deutsche Bank invested just over $7 billion in 17 nuclear weapons companies. Although the bank has recently tightened its investment policies, gaps remain.

The report does find that KBC / CBC has recently changed its investment policy in regard to nuclear weapons, and a large portion of the weapons producers have been blacklisted by the bank.

The report calls for banks to adopt and publish a clear and ethical investment policy. It also calls on the Belgian government to extend the law prohibiting the financing of controversial weapons to nuclear weapons, and, as a major shareholder of BNP Paribas and Belfius, to push these banks to adopt more ethical investment policies.

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