Disarm UCL: University received £3.6m from the arms trade from 2010-15

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Disarm UCL: University received £3.6m from the arms trade from 2010-15

This petition had 55 supporters

Elliot Murphy started this petition to University College London

A recent Freedom of Information request has revealed that University College London (UCL) received £3.6m from the arms trade from 2010-15, being funded by firms such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Halliburton, and Thales (https://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/ucl_and_the_arms_trade). This investment flies in the face of the university's claims about adhering to its 'ethical investment' policy.

After a two year student campaign, on January 1st 2009 UCL implemented this ethical investment policy, ensuring divestment from the arms firm Cobham PLC, a major supplier of Israeli arms and whose Hellfire missiles were regularly used in Iraq and Afghanistan. Cobham also manufactured parts of weapons system used by Israel in its bombing raids in Lebanon in 2006. After an FOI request revealed that UCL had £900,000 invested in Cobham (total assets invested: £92.3m; arms shares as percentage of total investments: 0.9) and £746,000 invested in Smiths Group (which contributed to the manufacturing of Apaches and F16s), the 'Disarm UCL' campaign was formed, which rapidly became extremely popular on campus, both with students and later with the university’s ethical investment review committee.

But despite these ethical commitments, UCL still engages in an extensive number of research and consultancy projects with a large number of the UK’s (and some of the US’s) arms companies.

The files reveal that from 2010-15, UCL had received over £1.3m from the Ministry of Defence and related departments for various projects, with £340,000 coming from the Atomic Weapons Establishment, £880,000 from the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), and £70,000 from the MoD.

During the same period, UCL received an astonishing £3.6m from the arms trade, bringing the total military-related funding to £4.9m. More worryingly, the amount has in fact increased annually from 2010, beginning at £623,000 in 2010-11, then rising to £881,000 in 2011-12, £1.02m in 2012-13, £1.14m in 2013-14, and £1.28m in 2014-15. The companies funding the university include Aeroflex, Airbus Defence & Space, Airbus Weapons Establishment, Babcock, BAE Systems (including BAE Systems Marine Ltd, BAE Systems Surface Ships Ltd), BMT Defence Services Limited, EADS, Halliburton, Lockheed Martin, Rolls-Royce Power Engineering, Thales (including Thales Uk Ltd, Thales Netherland B.V.), and TRL Technology. From 2010-15, UCL received £195,000 from BAE Systems, £1.8m from DARPA, £67,000 from Airbus, £19,000 from Halliburton, £236,000 from Lockheed Martin, and £625,000 from Thales.

The FOI request included the following statement: 'I would wholeheartedly encourage the university to adopt an ethical investment policy that excludes the arms trade, and would appreciate it if you could tell me if this is something that the university is working towards'. UCL’s response included no comment to this effect.

As countless other examples reveal, the modern university is concerned above all else with profit, and is more than willing to align itself with abusive regimes and rogue corporations, supporting unethical firms through investment, research, recruitment and inviting representatives to give talks on campus. Universities are increasingly becoming militarised spaces. University career services promote arms companies and invite them to careers fairs, 'advising' students away from applying their skills in more ethical, renewal job markets. Universities invest their financial reserves and endowment funds, either by buying shares directly or investing in funds. Through either of these means, their funds are often invested in arms companies, supporting them financially while also giving the arms trade something of a 'social license', since universities are typically well-respected (quasi-)public bodies.

Disarm UCL needs to be revived in light of these recent discoveries. Signing this petition and lobbying the university's provost and management will be vital steps towards forcing the university to adhere to its own ethical guidelines.

On Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/disarmucl

 

 

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This petition had 55 supporters