Thursday, 4 October 2007

Article in Edinburgh University Student newspaper

Edinburgh City Council is to consider copying the University of Edinburgh by implementing an ethical investment policy.

On Thursday, the council will vote on whether to adopt a set of checks and regulations regarding its investments around the world. The plan would see a ban on council money being used to support companies which damage the environment or infringe on human rights.

Many universities and councils have come under fire for putting profits ahead of ethics when choosing investments. In 2003 the University of Edinburgh bowed to pressure from environmental and human rights groups and introduced an ethical consultation procedure when considering investment opportunities.

In June the Edinburgh Green Society launched, an online blog dedicated to forcing the city council to review their policy. Student campaign leader Dariush Bazazi said: "Most councillors opposed the war in Iraq, yet freedom of information requests show that they are reaping the profits by investing in arms companies such as BAE Systems."

The movement gained support from groups such as Amnesty International and People & Planet as well as Edinburgh writer and Guardian journalist George Monbiot. Edinburgh City Council has significant investment in the arms manufacturer BAE systems, a company which is regularly attacked for its involvement with dubious political regimes.

Mr Monbiot said of the current situation: "At present, the council’s money is being used to underwrite the means by which large numbers of people are killed or mutilated. If I were drawing a council pension I would be extremely unhappy about the idea that my money was being squeezed out of other people’s blood."

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