9 of the largest Dutch pension funds invest in military weaponry
Of the 10 largest Dutch pension funds, nine invest a total of more than one billion euros in 14 dubious weapons manufacturers, according to the Fair Pension Guide compiled by Dutch peace organisation PAX. These manufacturers supply systems to countries that violate human rights.
Funding war through pensions
Of the more than one billion euros invested in weapons, the civil service fund ABP, health fund PFZW and engineering fund PME account for 927 million euros. This money keeps wars, like the one in Yemen, going. ABP invests the most, accounting for 569 million euros.
In 2016, the Netherlands restricted arms exports to Saudi Arabia due to the war in Yemen. However, "Some of most Dutch people’s retirement money is invested in arms companies that, for instance, keep Saudi Arabia’s jet fighters in the air," says PAX’s Cor Oudes. "These planes drop bombs that kill and maim civilians in Yemen."
14 weapons manufacturers received money from Dutch pension funds, but two, in particular, receive the most investment. These are United Technologies Corporation and General Electric. Despite their not-so-sinister-sounding names, these companies are two of the largest arms manufacturers in the world. According to PAX, they provide and maintain aircraft engines to the air forces in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
New policy is needed
Of the 10 large pension funds that the Fair Pension Guide looked at, only one did not invest in the arms companies selected in the study. That fund is the PMT, which serves the metal sector. In 2018, PMT decided to no longer invest in companies involved in nuclear weapons.
The real problem is that Dutch pension funds have next to no policy regarding the arms trade. This means funds run the risk of investing in the wrong companies, i.e. ones selling weapons to regimes. PAX urges pension funds to create good arms trade policies and encourage arms manufacturers to not sell their weapons to dubious regimes. If manufacturers then do nothing, the pension funds should stop investing in them.
For more information, see the Controversial Arms Trade and Investments of Dutch Pension Funds report.