Today the University of Edinburgh has announced that it will no longer be investing ‘controversial’ arms which is good but nowhere near good enough.
Senior Vice-Principal Charlie Jeffery has said: “This is an important phase in our review and demonstrates the University’s commitment to responsible investment” however I think this is little more than an attempt to gain some good publicity.
Let’s be clear, there’s no such thing as uncontroversial arms. Arms kill people whether or not they are classed as controversial. A commitment to responsible investment would involve divestment from all arms manufacturers.
We’re now in the 4th year of our campaign with students, staff and the public calling for the University to divest from arms and fossil fuels. We’ve said it before but we’ll say it again: Edinburgh University should not be funding environmental devastation, human rights abuses and war. It’s a publicly funded institution and the money it invests should benefit society.
Both this, and the divestment earlier in the year from coal and tar sands, are a step in the right direction but ultimately are a half-hearted attempt showing no real commitment to responsible investment. They have taken action because we have forced them too and have not divested willingly. If the University realise that investments in coal, tar sands and controversial arms are unacceptable then they should be able to understand how ‘uncontroversial’ arms and natural gas and oil kill people too.
We’ve been delighted to have the Edinburgh Peace & Justice Centre back our campaign and Brian Larkin thier coordinator highlighted that ‘although the University divested from one Drones manufacturer last year its list of “controversial” weapons does not include drones. This is a concern because it still has investments in Meggitt plc a manufacturer of drones and drones now used extensively in Afghanistan and implicated widely in civilian deaths. Besides manufacturing drones Meggitt sells weapons to Bahrain, with its record of human rights violations’.
Last week the University launched their new Climate Change campaign with which the “aim is to become a hub within the wider city for the exchange of ideas and opinions about how best to tackle one of the world’s great global challenges.” This is great but it would be much better if the University decided to practice what it preaches. They pitch themselves to the world as a leader in sustainability and a socially responsibility yet behind closed doors are continuing to fund the destruction they pretend to fight against.
By Kirsty Haigh