Russel Norman

National Provident Fund divests from cluster munitions

by Russel Norman

The Government guaranteed National Provident Fund has divested from companies producing cluster weapons, more than two years after the Cluster Munitions Prohibition Act became law making such investment illegal.

The decision to divest from Lockheed Martin came after a letter from me asking them to do so. The NPF Fund Manager, Simon Tyler, said in the letter “the NPF Board is comfortable that it acted in accordance with its policies and with New Zealand’s international obligations under the Cluster Munitions Convention and similar laws.”

Trouble is, I don’t work for the Fund. While I’m happy with the end result, it’s troubling the Fund doesn’t have the systems in place to stop it from breaking the law so unashamedly.

When we adopted the Cluster Munitions Convention in 2008, we made a commitment to “never under any circumstances assist or encourage” the cluster munitions industry.

Simon Tyler contends the Fund had only recently acquired $358,969 shares in Lockheed Martin, so their breech was short-lived. Yet the Fund continues to use “collective investment vehicles” (CIVs) over which it has no influence over the specific companies invested in. It’s unclear whether this will mean the Fund will, in the future, again profit from cluster munitions manufacturers at arm’s length through CIVs.