Lessons from other campaigners
Experiences of ICAN and Cluster Munition Coalition campaigners, offer some helpful lessons:
Collaborate with other NGOs also those who may not be in your traditional network. This is effective and efficient as each NGO brings complementary competencies to the campaign. It also strengthens your call for action when you show that you are representing a broad coalition.
Seek out dialogue and take advantage of opportunities to engage, including private discussions with the financial institutions. It can be helpful to have these conversations before launching a public campaign. The threat of the launch of a public campaign when private discussions do not lead to the expected results can be helpful in shifting policies.
Give a clear schedule with deadlines for financial institutions to deliver results. Consider using the upcoming 70th anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Japan (August 2015) as a hook.
Build up a good level of technical knowledge of the internal workings and technical dimensions of banks, pension funds and insurance companies. This allows for a constructive dialogue on an equal footing. Campaigners don’t need to know every detail, but if a financial institution says that it cannot divest, remember that the burden of proof is on them to show why not (especially as others already have!) It’s okay not to know all the details, and it’s a great reason to partner with a financial watchdog organisation in your country who might have more expertise and bring them into the campaign.
Maintain a clear focus on your specific aim to stop financing nuclear weapon producers. Try not to mix your core message with broader complaints about or attacks on financial institutions. This will be appreciated by the financial institution you want to talk with and may help to achieve better results for your campaign.
Stay true to your principles. Financial institutions have to adopt an explicit policy of no investment in / no financing of nuclear weapon manufacturers. When you’re speaking with them, combine your principled demand with a reasonable degree of flexibility and a realistic approach on the actual implementation of adopted policy. Implementing a policy takes time and financial institutions will appreciate your pragmatic approach.
Be thorough by making sure that 1) the policy adopted by banks and insurance companies covers proprietary as well as third party investment and, more generally, any form of financing, 2) that it becomes a public policy, among other things by being published on the institution’s web site and 3) that it ends up being reflected in the institution’s internal rules or codes of conduct and therefore can be controlled by the internal auditors.
Display public documents by sending copies to be posted on www.dontbankonthebomb.com to increase transparency on the exchanges between NGOs and companies, as well as to raise awareness among the Corporate Social Responsibility community.