IRELAND - The Irish government has drafted a new Bill on investment in munitions such as cluster bombs that will specifically change the investment policy of the National Pension Reserve Fund (NPRF).

Ireland hosted and chaired the Dublin Diplomatic Conference on Cluster Munitions in May attended by representatives from over 100 states, which resulted in the adoption of the Convention on Cluster Munitions (CCM).

The CCM requires an immediate and unconditional ban by its signatories on all cluster munitions that "cause unacceptable harm to civilians" and prohibits any assistance, encouragement or inducement to anyone to engage in any activity prohibited under the Convention.

Although the convention was adopted at the meeting, it will not be open to signatures until December, however ahead of this next meeting Ireland has confirmed it plans to introduce the Inhuman Munitions Bill in the Oireachtas [Parliament] after it reconvenes on 24 September, "with a view to give legislative effect to Ireland's commitments".

A spokeswoman for the Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA), which organised the Dublin conference, said the aim of the legislation is to "be in a position not only to sign, but also to ratify, the Convention when it opens for signature in Oslo on 3 December".

The DFA confirmed the "expectation is the Bill will specifically address the position of the NPRF", because of the current legislation which specifies profit and asset maximisation as its sole objective.

But it added "other agencies" such as pension funds and other institutions, "may receive ministerial direction but are expected to comply with known government policy anyway".

The NPRF admitted in March it was examining its investments in cluster bomb manufacturers following the Irish government's stance on the issue, as it confirmed it had exposure to companies involved in the manufacture of munitions through both its index portfolios and active managers. (See earlier IPE article: Irish effort forces NPRF to review SRI)

The issue of pension funds investing in munitions, and cluster bombs in particular, has already led to pension funds in both Denmark and the Netherlands disinvesting from companies, while the UK local authority scheme in Merseyside is currently lobbying councillors and trustees to allow a member vote on investing in munitions. (See earlier IPE articles: Cluster bombs force ethical change at Danica; Dutch pension assets still invested in weapons; and Liverpool pushes again for Merseyside ethical policy)

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