European financial institutions invest billions in arms companies that sell weapons to Israel


A new report published by a group of 19 civil society organisations and trade unions - including the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) - exposes the largest European financial institutions investing billions of euros in international arms producers that sell weapons to Israel.

20 June 2024. The report The companies arming Israel and their financiers reveals that European financial institutions have provided 36.1 billion EUR in loans and underwritings, and hold 26 billion EUR in shares and bonds in companies selling weapons to Israel. By selling weapons to Israel, arms producers run a high risk of facilitating severe violations of international humanitarian law, crimes against humanity or genocide in Gaza.

From 2019 to 2023, six of the world’s largest arms producers -Boeing, General Dynamics, Leonardo, Lockheed Martin, RTX, and Rolls-Royce- have sold weapons or weapon systems to Israel. French bank BNP Paribas is by far the largest finance provider to companies that have sold weapons to Israel, having provided 5.7 billion EUR in loans and underwritings since 2021. Other large investors identified by the report include the banks Crédit Agricole, Deutsche Bank, Barclays and UBS, as well as the Norwegian government pension fund GFPG and the insurance company Allianz.

"According to international standards on business and human rights, financial institutions have a clear responsibility to ensure that they do not invest in companies that contribute to human rights violations", says Gaëlle Dusepulchre, Deputy Director of FIDH’s Business, Human Rights & Environment Desk.

Previous research by PAX, one of the report’s co-authors, pointed out that all six arms companies identified in the report have been supplying weapons to states involved with violations of human rights or international humanitarian law, including to Israel.

The Israeli government’s unprecedented military assault on Gaza has killed over 37,000 Palestinians and led to the large-scale destruction of the Gaza Strip and a humanitarian catastrophe. International human rights organisations and UN officials have repeatedly pointed to the severe violations of international humanitarian law being committed.

The Dutch appeals court referenced the risk of such violations as the basis for its ruling in February this year that the Netherlands needs to stop exporting F-35 fighter jet parts to Israel. Moreover, in January 2024, the International Court of Justice ordered Israel to take all measures in its power to prevent genocide in Gaza.

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