SOAS sells off arms shares
London’s School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) has announced that it is to sell all of its investments in arms companies as a direct result of public disclosures by CAAT, and pressure from staff and lecturers. The story was published by London Student and subsequently taken up by members of the lecturer’s union at SOAS, the AUT.
On 8th November 2005, SOAS’ Director of Finance and Administration, Andrew Keeble, issued an email to staff announcing that, “instructions have been issued to dispose of the School’s holdings in defence stocks.” He added that SOAS’ investment committee “is to consider a draft ethical investment policy at its next meeting”.
SOAS will be selling the 62,000 shares it holds in arms company giants Smiths Group, Cobham and GKN. CAAT campaigner Tim Street, who researched the investments, said: “This is fantastic news. SOAS’ investments funded a trade fuelling conflict zones across Africa and Asia, threatening its reputation as a centre for internationalism and progress in these regions.
“SOAS’ decision also lays down a major challenge to the 66 other British universities and colleges currently investing in the arms trade: it is becoming harder for them to argue that such divestment is legally difficult – and harder for them to answer the tough ethical questions being asked by staff and students.”
Dr Graham Dyer, President of SOAS AUT branch, said:
“This murderous trade has ravaged countries across Asia and Africa, with British companies touting some £4 billion worth of lethal weaponry around the globe. Universities have no business supporting these killers. SOAS staff and students have played their part in making the arms trade history.”