Campaign to Stop University of York Investment in the Arms Trade

Campaign to Stop University of York Investment in the Arms Trade

Campaign Mission Statement – To educate the university populous on the plight of child soldiers and to raise awareness of the harm caused by the arms industry.                                               


To stop the University of York investing in the arms trade and encourage the university to adopt an ethical investment policy for the future.


   Conduct a relentless campaign to ensure the University of York stops all investment in the arms trade and adopts an ethical investment policy, culminating in a weekend long demonstration at the end of February.

The Campaign notes that:

  More than 2 years ago the University of York promised it would end all investments in BAE Systems and adopt an ethical investment policy, but the university hasn’t. Instead, since 2007 the University of York has increased their shareholdings in the arms company BAE Systems from £644,371 to £713,803. Total University shareholdings in arms companies amount to £997,342. The university pretty much just kicked the students in the face. It is therefore absolutely crucial to keep up the pressure, to ensure the university doesn’t back down a second time.  

   By paying our tuition fees we, the students, indirectly finance the University of York’s investment in the arms trade. As the UGM motion notes, students provide the University with a significant proportion of its income through fees. When we pay our tuition fees we become active members of the university, who should be allowed to have a say in where university money is spent, especially since a share of university income has come from students. No matter how small the financial contribution is individually, collectively students provide the university with a good proportion of its finance. Without students a university is pointless, we are its life blood, which is why ultimately we should be considered in any decisions on budget, investment and the general spending of university money. Students are the driving force of any university and should be considered active participants within the university. Universities exist to care for students, which is why universities should care what students think, we should have a say in its budget expenditure.

   Many students want to finally put an end to this abuse of interest, since investment in the arms trade is in direct conflict with student values and university principles (welfare and education, which should be extended to all, not just a fortunate few). The irony and hypocrisy of, on the one hand, educating, caring and cultivating a small and very privileged proportion of the world’s youth while, on the other hand, depriving, destroying and killing another portion of the world’s disadvantaged young is totally unacceptable. “This is completely hypocritical. The University is promoting peace-building in one area but fuelling war in another,” said Nicholls et al (Nouse quote).

  BAE Systems sell weapons to some of the most oppressive regimes in the world and was investigated by the Serious Fraud Office over alleged corruption in arms deals. The University has a moral responsibility to ensure that its investments do not negatively affect society or the environment. Continued university investment in the arms trade marks a serious neglect of this responsibility. Universities should invest in the development of ideas promoting peace and ethical practice not investing in the development of war and division; universities should not be in the business of death and destruction, but welfare and education.

   Machines of death (arms, guns, bombs, mines etc) are designed for one purpose only; to kill. Therefore, the production and distribution of arms is, in its very essence, a violation of human rights; the right to live free from fear and oppression. The arms trade violates these principles; by the University of York investing in the arms trade it is supporting the perpetuation of war, destruction and violence since arms continually contribute, inspire and inevitably lead to atrocities and abuses of human rights, like military oppression, prostitution and human trafficking, all over the world. In an exchange of misery, the arms trade deals weaponry for profit, selling arms which reach and destroy places peace keepers don’t visit any more.

   From the Caribbean slums and African streets where a passport is an American gun. From where they massacre people and try to keep it quiet, like in the cases of Regan’s bombing of Cambodia and Milosevic’s slaughter of Bosnian Muslims. From where the bombs that they use to drop on Vietnam still have children born deformed 8 months before their gone. From where Palestine children turn into kid soldiers and suicide bombers as they attempt to seek revenge, freedom and independence. All they way to the streets of London, where young teenagers, caught up in a gang culture, are caring guns for protection. These are the results of the arms industry; we should not support such institutions of war and terror by investing in companies that manufacture and trade machines of death and destruction.

  PLEASE JOIN THE CAMPAIGN TO STOP UNIVERSITY INVESTMENT IN THE ARMS TRADE: Uneconomical, corrupt, socially detrimental, why do it! Support the university in their adoption of an ethical investment policy, and know that YOUR tuition fees aren’t going to immoral industries but are supporting projects that are beneficial financially and socially. Make a stand, let people know the facts, raise awareness, be active! Please put up posters, give out flyers, and sign the petition. People unite, get involved and start the protest!

Speak out for those who have cannot be heard by showing your support for this campaign, together we can make a positive difference!!!


Aims and Objectives:

           A 1000 strong petition of student signatures to stop University of York investment in the arms industry.

          Pass a UGM motion through the University of York to stop investment in BAE systems and further investment in the arms trade with the formation of an ethical investment policy.

          Hold a discussion on university investment in the arms trade.

          Poster and flyer campaign around campus and town.

          Provide a visual focal display in the physics building highlighting the plight of child soldiers.

          A weekend long demonstration:


 20th t of February, Friday Afternoon – Amnesty International Protest to increase awareness on the issue of child soldiers. Hundreds of thousands of children as young as 8 have participated in 21 ongoing conflicts around the world, places like Uganda, Colombia, Rwanda and Russia. Technological advancements in the arms industry have allowed for younger and younger children to wield small arms. The University of York is financing the development of such weapons by investing in arms companies such as BAE systems (4th largest arms company).

21st of February, Saturday Night – HomeGrownSounds-NetWorkMusic presents an eclectic music event with conscious material under the banner “Stop University of York Investment in the Arms Trade”, to raise awareness of child soldiers and university investment in the arms industry, in aid of charity with all profits going to Kings World Trust for Children. In collaboration with Amnesty International, People and Planet, RAG, Breakz and Herbal Mafia plus more.

22nd of February, Sunday Evening – “Stop the University of York Investment in the Arms Trade” Jamming Session with HomeGrownSounds and SoulSpun, a free event open to all, where musicians of all forms can gather to turn the melody of thought into a freestyle musical session.  Tea, biscuits and all that other madness…


  By signing this petition we here by agree that the University of York’s investment in the arms trade is unacceptable and are united in our efforts to ensure the University of York adopts an ethical policy on investment. We, the students, insist that the University of York stops all investment in the arms trade, and in particular BAE Systems.

(If you’re interested in getting involved with the campaign or want more information please leave your email next to your signature)

Seconded by:


Our needs:

Contact media outlets, student newspapers and radio YUSU. Gain greater media coverage through national institutes.

Design and make flyers and posters for music event and jamming session!

Permission from the university to hold a protest on campus with school children on Friday the 20th of February.

Find a school that will allow the pupils to attend and participate in an activity day and protest on campus.

Organise a presentation and talk on the issues.

Hold a screening of relevant films, e.g ‘Lord of War’



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