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Surveillance and Ethical Investment

April 1, 2010

An interesting case today. Associated Press is reporting that Sweden’s major pension fund has decided to drop the company, Elbit Systems, from its investment portfolio on the grounds that it provides surveillance equipment to the separation barrier that cuts through the Occupied Territories of the West Bank. The find has an ethical policy and as the European Union considers the barrier to be in violation of international law, it seems they had little moral choice but to drop it. Interestingly the Israeli government has complained on behalf of this private company, which of course just serves to highlight still further the close links between the state and security firms and arms manufacturers in Israel. I am not sure that it’s particularly ethical for any national pension fund to be propping up another nation’s security policies, let alone a policy that is so controversial not to say overtly illegal. But beyond this Elbit is a major arms company that would, I thought, in any case have been off-limits for a fund with ‘ethics’ – see: Neve Gordon’s report on The Political Economy of Israel’s Homeland Security produced for The New Transparency collaborative research initiative here at the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s.

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