WHEREAS landmines and cluster bombs are responsible for killing or maiming thousands of innocent civilians yearly, usually after the cessation of hostilities, and many of which retain the ability to detonate 50 to 100 years;
WHEREAS the United States has refused to place a ban on landmine production, or to sign the 1997 diplomatic initiative by Canada, Belgium and Norway aimed at the signing of a comprehensive landmine ban treaty, though three key NATO allies and 11 other nations have halted production;
WHEREAS General Electric was a supplier of integrated circuit components and other parts for landmines directly or through other business ties from 1989 through 1993 or possibly later; and
WHEREAS General Electric is one of the landmine parts supplier corporations approached by the Human Rights Watch Arms Project that has refused to renounce future involvement in antipersonnel landmine production;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that the shareholders request GE management to establish a firm policy to renounce future involvement in antipersonnel landmine and cluster bomb production.
Antipersonnel mines and the newer hybrid, cluster bombs, are indiscriminate, hidden killers and constitute one of the great public health hazards of the late twentieth century. They frustrate post-war reconstruction in dozens of countries. Resources which should be used to rebuild schools and hospitals are instead diverted to landmine clearance, a crushing financial burden for the world s poorest nations. One tragic irony is that U.S. peacekeeping troops lives are threatened by landmines manufactured and exported from the U.S. some years ago. Landmines maim or kill 26,000 people a year. Most victims are civilians; 30 to 40% are children.
There has been a freeze on orders for the production of new landmines in the U.S., yet the Department of Defense maintains a fund earmarked for this purpose. The U.S. maintains a stockpile of approximately 14 million antipersonnel mines. Until 1992, the U.S. was one of the biggest exporters of antipersonnel mines. There remains a global moratorium on such exports at the present.
While it is true that corporations do not institute military or foreign policy, we shareholders believe that something that violates human rights and international law so flagrantly as this indiscriminate weapon should not be manufactured at all. We want General Electric to be among the corporations taking a moral stand refusing to supply any parts or know-how in landmine and cluster bomb production. GE would not gain that much from participation in production of landmine parts for shareholders to notice any financial loss if no contracts were taken. GE will gain much public good will worldwide with its renouncement of future involvement.
We urge your supporting vote for this proposal.