Investors' role in abolishing nuclear weapons: Quit Nukes

The Quit Nukes honour roll profiles Australian financial institutions that have adopted and implemented policies to comprehensively prevent financial involvement with companies that produce nuclear weapons.

19 February 2021.

The destructive force associated with the use of nuclear weapons is unmatched by any other form of ordinance with both immediate and long term consequences. Indeed, the proliferation of these apocalyptic weapons and the mere threat of their use can have a destabilising effect on international relations and the future outlook for peace and stability.

To help mobilise the finance industry in bringing about a world untroubled by the threat of nuclear war, this month U Ethical Investors joined the Quit Nukes honour roll.

Quit Nukes is an initiative of the Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW), in collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) that has fast gained traction since its creation in 2017.

Pictured left: Jenny Grounds, Director - Quit Nukes. Pictured right: Mathew Browning, Chief executive officer - U Ethical Investors.

What is the Quit Nukes honour roll?

The Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW), the first global arms control instrument aimed at prohibiting nuclear weapons entirely entered into force on the 22nd of January 2021. While a monumental step in the right direction, from an investor perspective – the treaty explicitly makes nuclear weapons illegal under international law and prohibits countries who have signed and ratified it from providing any assistance whatsoever to nuclear weapons producers. Financing of nuclear weapons is considered to be a form of assistance. Nearly 90 countries have signed the treaty, and over 50 have ratified it as of today, but sadly Australia is not one of them. This is where Quit Nukes steps in. The Quit Nukes honour Roll profiles Australian financial institutions that have adopted and implemented policies to comprehensively prevent financial involvement with companies that produce nuclear weapons. These institutions can use their profile and investable resources to support progress towards the abolition of nuclear weapons, and a safer world for all.

A pioneer in nuclear weapon exclusion

Since 1985, U Ethical Investors has resolutely excluded companies involved in the production of nuclear weapons from its investable universe. Long cognisant of the risks of both military and civilian use of nuclear technology, a desire to avoid involvement with uranium mining provided the impetus for the creation of our first funds in the late 1970s. A pioneer in nuclear weapons exclusion, U Ethical also does not invest in any retailer or other listed defence company supporting the production or delivery of any weapons for that matter.

Involvement in the defence & weapons industry misaligns with our ethical framework commitments: not investing in companies or securities that “cause or perpetuate injustice and suffering” and “do not comply with the United Nations Global Compact Principles”.

U Ethical champions the power of peace, justice and the rule of law to enable a prosperous and thriving society.

According to U Ethical ethics and impact manager Désirée Lucchese it’s crucial that investors help bridge the critical gap between what the UN’s Treaty aspires to achieve and the risks of prohibited assistance.

“Looking at the campaign by Dutch NGO PAX in collaboration with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) ‘Don’t Bank on the Bomb’ – while the financial sector cannot sign or ratify the treaty – it can take action through divestment [1].”

“The Quit Nukes campaign not only encourages institutional divestment from nuclear weapons – it aims to combat the corporate risks involved in enabling the world’s worst weapons [2].

“Adding to this, considering only three countries with significant financial markets have become state parties to the TPNW to date, investors’ role here is critical.”

U Ethical looks forward to working with like-minded Australian fund managers in encouraging the finance industry to divest completely from companies that produce, or support the production or deployment of, nuclear weapons.


[1] Alignment with UN-SDG 16 – peace, justice and strong institutions.
[2] U Ethical does not invest in nuclear power due to the risks of nuclear waste being illegally traded to create nuclear weapons.

This page contains information that is general in nature only. It does not constitute personal financial, tax or legal advice or an offer or solicitation to subscribe for units in any U Ethical Fund. This document has been prepared without taking account of objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on the information or deciding whether to acquire or hold a product, you should read the PDS, IM or Offer Document and consider the appropriateness of the information based on objectives, financial situation or needs or consult a professional adviser. Past performance is not an indicator of future performance. While every effort has been made to verify the accuracy of information, U Ethical, its officers and employees disclaim all liability (as permitted by law) for any error, inaccuracy or omission.

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Article by

Lexie Hume


19 February 2021


Ethics and impact

Article by

Lexie Hume


19 February 2021