Press Release - FAO Newsdesks/Education/Business
University ditches shares after CAAT's arms investment disclosures
London's School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has announced that it is to sell all of its investments in arms companies as a direct result of public disclosures by the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), and pressure from staff and lecturers.
On Tuesday morning (8th Nov) SOAS' Director of Finance and Administration, Andrew Keeble, issued an email to staff announcing that, 'alerted by an article in the London Student of 1 November...instructions have been issued to dispose of the School's holdings in defence stocks.' He added that SOAS' investment committee 'is to consider a draft ethical investment policy at its next meeting'.
Details of investments held by SOAS and 66 other UK universities in Britain's six largest arms companies were obtained by CAAT under Freedom of Information legislation, and published last month as part of its ongoing 'Clean Investment Campaign'. News of SOAS' 62,000 shares in arms company giants Smiths Group, Cobham and GKN appeared in London's main student newspaper last week, prompting protests from staff members of the Association of University Teachers (AUT).
CAAT campaigner Tim Street, who researched the investments, said:
“This is fantastic news. SOAS' investments funded a trade fuelling conflict zones across Africa and Asia, threatening its reputation as a centre for internationalism and progress in these regions. SOAS' decision also lays down a major challenge to the 66 other British universities and colleges currently investing in the arms trade: it is becoming harder for them to argue that such divestment is legally difficult - and harder for them to answer the tough ethical questions being asked by staff and students."
Dr Graham Dyer, President of SOAS AUT branch, said:
"This murderous trade has ravaged countries across Asia and Africa, with British companies touting some £4 billion worth of lethal weaponry around the globe. Universities have no business supporting these killers. SOAS staff and students have played their part in making the arms trade history."