In a Comment published in this week's edition of The Lancet, a group of students, graduates, and lecturers at Oxford University condemns its practice of investing in companies that manufacture arms.
The authors, members of the group Oxford Anti-War Action, say that between 2008 and 2010 £4•5 million of Oxford University's assets were invested (through third-party funds) in BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and other UK and US arms manufacturers.
They say: "Take Oxford's holding in Lockheed Martin. In April, 2010, the University held £1•4 million worth of shares in this US-based company that makes the Hellfire missile. The WikiLeaks release records the killing of an Iraqi boy by a Hellfire missile fired at him by a US helicopter while he was collecting firewood." They add:"A Hellfire missile is also seen killing a passer-by as it is launched at a civilian structure at the end of the infamous Collateral murder video released by WikiLeaks, which shows footage from a US helicopter cockpit of innocent civilians gunned down in Baghdad, accompanied by the crew's mocking commentary."
Oxford Anti-War Action also say that Lockheed Martin produces cluster bombs, a type of armament that is illegal in the UK. Further, they state Oxford University also previously invested in General Dynamics, a company producing depleted-uranium ammunition, despite widespread concerns about the long term effects of such munitions.
The group says: "Like students at other universities, we have been campaigning to get Oxford University to withdraw its investment from arms companies. However, the arguments brought by our campaign were dismissed by the review committee appointed by Oxford to consider the issue, and in June, 2010, the University's governing Council decided against screening out arms companies (including companies producing weapons which are illegal in the UK) from their investment portfolio."
They conclude: "In this decision they convey not just a blatant disregard for the suffering caused by arms, but also contempt for the general concept of ethical investment... Our universities have a choice: they can channel their considerable capital to worthy enterprises, shaping the future in a responsible way. Or they can continue to provide the financial wherewithal to produce potentially ever deadlier and more indiscriminate means of destruction."
Joint authors of the Comment: Miriyam Aouragh, Russell Inglis, Ashley Inglis, Cetta Mainwaring, Geoff Tibbs, Shawn Paulson, Divestment Committee of Oxford Anti-War Action, Wadham College, Oxford University, UK. T) Russell Inglis: +44 (0) 7980 862 956 / Ashley Inglis:+44 (0) 7950 361 592 E ) firstname.lastname@example.org / email@example.com
For full Comment, see: http://press.