. Time to Come Clean - UCL Students Campaign for London’s Global University to Get Out of the Global Arms Trade | London Progressive Journal
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Time to Come Clean - UCL Students Campaign for London’s Global University to Get Out of the Global Arms Trade

Fri 11th Jan 2008

University College London (UCL) currently invests around £900,000 worth of shares in arms trader Cobham. When this news was revealed by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT), UCL students were shocked that London’s global university had sold its global conscience for profit.

It took a bare minimum of research to discover that ethical investment brings equally good returns. The latest piece of evidence is a report by the United Nations and Mercer published in the Financial Times on 12 November 2007, which states that investing ethically does not hamper financial performance.

Even the conservative argument that there is nothing wrong with investing in a British arms company does not stack up as Cobham is a multi-national group of companies. Besides, British or not, there are a lot of reasons not to invest in the arms trade.

UCL alumnus Richard Wilson knows what it means to be at the receiving end of the international arms trade. His sister Charlotte was killed in Burundi in 2000 by Hutu militias. Her killers told her that she was dying because of “the white people supplying the weapons in Africa”.

Richard says: “By handing this company over £900,000 with which to do business, UCL is making itself complicit in that business, and its impact on the world. In producing components for military aircraft which are then sold to some of the most depraved regimes on the planet, Cobham is as responsible for the deaths that result as the people who produced the bullets that killed my sister.”

Students, staff and alumni are outraged by UCL’s unethical investment and campaign together to Disarm UCL. After campaigners presented Provost Malcolm Grant with over 1200 signatures opposing the arms investment the UCL Council in June 2007 decided to look into adopting an ethical investment policy.

Since then the Disarm UCL campaign has developed a proposal for an ethical investment policy at UCL and presented it to Lord Joel Joffe and Edwin Glasgow QC, who UCL has appointed to look into the issue. On the day of the last UCL Council meeting, members who had read the proposal said it looked “serious” and “professional”.

Despite this acknowledgement, the Council in their meeting on 5 December 2007 did not have the courage to ditch the unpopular shares in Cobham once and for all. UCL’s leadership has also not made the time frame for the development of an ethical investment policy clear or publicly available.

“It is such an amazing opportunity for UCL to be at the forefront of ethical investment of British universities. I hope that the process of developing the policy is made transparent and students are given the formal consultative role they deserve” says Sherina Peroos, the Ethics and Environment Officer at UCL Union.

UCL students and alumni are starting the new year with optimism. “Disarm UCL has achieved a lot so far”, says Craig Griffiths, one of the members of the campaign. “We’ll continue to keep up the pressure. 2008 might be the year when UCL sells its arms shares and adopts a proper ethical investment policy.”

Disarm UCL is liaising with other student campaigners across the UK and has set up a “Universities against the arms trade” network. They plan to share resources and swap experiences to campaign more effectively. If you are concerned about your university's investments and want to get involved with the network please contact us at info@disarmucl.com. To find out more about other arms trade campaigns, you can visit www.caat.org.uk.
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#78: Posted by David Rahni on Wed 18 Jun 2008 00:00

IRAN by Professor David N. Rahni, Ph.D. (drahni@yahoo.com) New York, U.S.A.

The Bush administration has once again ratcheted up the drum beating of a “Preemptive War” against Iran, on the presumption of the now familiar saber rattling pretext of “weapons of mass destruction.” Many believe his motive as a dire hope of passing on the White-House-Baton to another neo-conservative warmonger, John McCain, as his successor. While the court of public opinion worldwide, including the U.S., is unanimously against waging another bloody war of transgression costly to all sides concerned, President Bush, at least on the surface, seems to have been orchestrating another false image of “an international coalition” relying on his political lackeys and lapdogs and poodles and patsies in Europe, Israel and the Middle East, as they are referred to by the independent press and the populace.

There has been repeated number of unannounced inspections (over 3,000) and live camera surveillance by the IAEA of the so-called nuclear sites in Iran; Iran, unlike other intransigent regimes in the region, has signed onto the NPT and the UN conventions for nuclear non-proliferations. There is no proven evidence to substantiate the frivolous claim by the Bush administration that the Iranian nuclear development, which Iran states is for peaceful energy and medical applications, has or is leading toward nuclear weapon development. It is believed that the Iranian regime has ostentatiously showcased its nuclear projects seeking security guarantees from outside while orchestrating and exploiting a domestic unified sense of nationalism and pride.

Iran is a highly diverse and historically rich nation, with archaeological monuments dating back to 10,000 years, and with a continuous form of government within the past 2,500 years. The struggle for democracy, modernization and socio-cultural and political reform in Iran has actually labored on for over one hundred years, only to be hindered by external colonial intervention, albeit the Americans since World War II, and their internal native cronies so as to exploit the natural and strategic resources of the country. In fact, the first democratically elected Iranian prime-minister, Dr. Mohammad Mosadegh, the internally acclaimed lawyer who nationalized Iranian oil and defended Iran’s sovereignty against the Anglo-American Oil consortium was overthrown by a CIA sponsored coup in 1953, followed by the reluctant return of the Shah to in effect reinstall the absolute monarch on the Persian Peacock throne, that had been abolished fifty years earlier. The modest degree of domestic reform and international engagement achieved in Iran during the 90’s, has now been replaced by some of the harshest repressive measures unseen since the midst of the revolutionary fervor of the late 70’s. The credit for such socio-political regression goes to Bush and his denigrating label of Iran as a member of the “Axis of Evil” and his continued ideologically inflamed rhetoric of the “battle of Armageddon” that has in essence resurrected the ultra-, and neo-conservatives everywhere. The current annual U.S. financing of up to 100 million dollars of covert ethnic unrest and interference in Iran’s internal affairs, as grotesque as it may seem to most honorable Americans, has further antagonized, and as result disenfranchised the political hierarchies of the Middle East region.

The press and media as well as the populace in both countries should, therefore, remain vigilant by expressing their conscientious objections to war and terrorism, and repression and bloodshed, and their staunch advocacy instead, for negotiations, justice and peace; otherwise, we may be facing a horrifically calamitous outcome that could engulf the entire Middle East, thereby pushing the price of oil astronomically and an economic contraction to follow. As treacherous as the long-term intertwined national interests of the Americans, the Iranians, and the Israelis, may be portrayed by those with ulterior motives from all sides. They can harmoniously achieve credibility and economic competitiveness for the U.S., legitimate security and progress for Israel, and homegrown democracy, justice and development for Iran, if and when a mutually respectful multilateral negotiation convene to resolve all outstanding Middle Eastern issues. The time, to resort to human basics of logic and reason, rationale and justice, over belligerence and confrontation, and hegemony and adventurism, is far overdue. This paradigm, as counterintuitive as it may seem to the sold-out political powerhouses and lobbying think-tanks, is nonetheless, congruent with the longing aspirations of the peoples of the U.S., Israel and Iran who have reaffirmed their desires for CHANGE.