The Dutch NGO PAX recently published a new edition of the report, “Don't Bank on the Bomb”, which documents and denounces the governments and banks around the world that are financing of companies producing nuclear weapons. The organization also annually publishes the report “Worldwide Investments in Cluster Munitions: A Shared Responsibility”, which focuses on financing of cluster bombs.
Although they include some suggestions for improvement, both reports recognize BBVA’s efforts in this regard and welcome its Defense Policy. The policy is accessible to the public and has been in force since February 2012. In fact, BBVA is the only bank in its reference group that is part of the Triodos Investment Management investor universe – a benchmark in so-called ethical banking that applies the highest standards in its investment decisions.
In this policy, BBVA recognizes countries’ right to defend themselves and therefore, their right to develop, produce and possess weapons. However, the bank feels that some of the defense industry’s activities go against its principles and the way it conducts business. This means:
1) That BBVA does not maintain financial relations with any companies that sell weapons to countries under an arms embargos.
2) That BBVA does not participate in operations related to arms trade with countries with a high risk of human rights violations.
3) That BBVA does not invest in or offer any form of financial services to arms companies it considers controversial. The bank considers companies that cause a disproportionate number of victims or that have an impact on civilians after conflicts have ended to be controversial.
BBVA considers five types of weapons controversial: anti-personnel landmines, biological and chemical weapons and cluster and nuclear bombs. Furthermore, the banks does not invest in or offer financial services to companies that directly participate in the development, production, testing and/or maintenance of nuclear weapons in countries that have not signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NTP), or countries that do not comply with the treaty despite having signed it. Nuclear weapons are considered controversial due to their potential impact on civilians and their indiscriminate nature, but they are not prohibited under international law. The ownership, production, proliferation and use of this type of weapon is strictly regulated and supervised under the NTP. The treaty accepts that China, France, Russia, the U.K. and U.S. produce and possess nuclear weapons.
The Defense Policy applies to all BBVA Group units, franchises and subsidiaries around the world - and to all its financial services. Without exception. To apply the policy, BBVA uses exclusion lists of both companies and countries, which are regularly updated by globally renowned independent experts. The policy is also revised periodically and is subject to internal and external auditing which ensures that the bank is complying with the policy and applying it properly.
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