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NGO: British financial institutions complicit in Israeli war crimes

In July 2017, War on Want (WoW) published a report claiming that UK-based banks and investment companies are complicit in Israeli war crimes against Palestinians. The financial institutions cited in the report have allegedly invested in defence companies known to provide equipment to the Israeli military.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre invited the financial institutions and defence companies accused of profiting from Palestinian rights abuse. Those companies include: Aviva; Barclays; HSBC; Investec; Legal & General Investment Management; Prudential; Schroders; Standard Life; BAE Systems; Boeing; Caterpillar; Cobham; Elbit Systems; General Dynamics; GKN; HP Enterprise; Lockheed Martin; Meggitt; Motorola Solutions; Northrop Grumman; QinetiQ; Raytheon; Rolls-Royce; Ultra Electronics; United Technologies. We received responses from: Aviva; BAE Systems; HP Enterprise; Legal & General Investment Management; Motorola Solutions. You can read the responses in full below.

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Company non-response
8 October 2018

Ultra Electronics did not respond

Busines & Human Rights Resource Centre invited Ultra Electronics to respond to the allegations raised by War on Want. Ultra Electronics did not respond.

Company non-response
8 October 2018

United Technologies did not respond

Busines & Human Rights Resource Centre invited United Technologies to respond to the allegations raised by War on Want. United Technologies did not respond.

Company response
1 October 2018

Motorola Solutions responds to allegations linking its products to war crimes

Author: Tama McWhinney, Motorola Solutions

Motorola Solutions provides communication systems to customers in more than 100 countries around the world, and the company has a long history of working with customers in countries throughout the Middle East. Our customers include governments, enterprises and non-governmental organizations. As a well-respected and responsible corporate citizen, our global activities are conducted in accordance with U.S., local, country and other applicable laws, as well as our own code of business conduct. Our company has a comprehensive set of policies and procedures that address human rights that are designed to ensure that our operations worldwide are conducted with the highest standards of integrity.

Download the full document here

Company response
24 September 2018

Aviva responds to allegations linking its investments to war crimes

Author: Zelda Bentham, Aviva

... The War on Want report identifies a number of companies “as profiting from Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people” and also mentions Aviva as holding shares in those companies. We are unable to comment on specific allegations. However, as part of our commitments as a responsible investor, Aviva will engage with those companies in the report, in which we have active investments, to understand what they are doing to address the alleged human rights violations. We will then decide on next steps. We believe that responsible investment can play a key role in ensuring that human rights are respected. As such, we will continue to apply a human rights lens to our role as investor and asset owners by avoiding investing in companies that fall within the scope of our exclusions policies (e.g. as those covered by our Policy on Cluster Munitions), on a wider basis with company engagement, and challenge through the way we vote, to improve their performance on managing human rights risks, and divesting when this is deemed a balanced and proportionate response...

Download the full document here

Company response
24 September 2018

BAE Systems responds to allegations linking its products to war crimes

Author: Donna-Marie Matheson, BAE Systems

Our activities are subject to compliance with international trade control requirements, including US and UK trade control regulations, and our own responsible business trading principles.

Download the full document here

Company response
24 September 2018

Hewlett Packard Enterprise responds to allegations linking its products to war crimes

Author: Emmanuel Fyle, Hewlett Packard Enterprise

HPE is strongly committed to socially responsible business practices and has been throughout its history. Our work in Israel is consistent with our values and standards. It is not our policy to take sides in political disputes between countries or regions. Instead, we are committed to making the benefits of technology available to all people as a means to learn, to work and to thrive.

Download the full document here

10 July 2017

Deadly Investments: UK bank complicity in Israel’s crimes against the Palestinian people

Author: Michael Deas and Ryvka Barnard, War on Want

UK banks and financial institutions examined in this report hold shares worth over £10.8 billion in companies that sell weapons, military equipment and technology to Israel and used to oppress Palestinians. Additionally, some of them facilitate loans to these companies... In June 2017, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) published guidance to the banking sector clarifying that banks and financial institutions have responsibilities under the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to “avoid causing or contributing to adverse human rights impacts” and “to prevent or mitigate adverse human rights impacts that are directly linked to their operations, products or services by their business relationships”... Using evidence gathered from two financial databases... we investigated the relationship between some of the UK’s best known banks and financial institutions and a sample of 19 companies known to supply the Israeli military and the Israeli government with weapons and technology used in the oppression of Palestinians... Banks that hold shares in arms companies profit from the arms trade and lend legitimacy to the arms trade as a whole. By holding shares in companies that profit from Israel’s war crimes against the Palestinian people, UK banks and financial institutions are materially benefitting from those crimes and providing them with legitimacy...

Read the full post here