University of Melbourne
Statement for students, staff and alumni
I want my study and work, and my university, to contribute to addressing the major challenges of our time and building a better world – more just, fair, inclusive, sustainable, healthy and peaceful.
I am concerned about inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, including weapons of mass destruction, and weapons banned by international treaty. Such weapons – which include nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, anti-personnel landmines and cluster munitions – have no place in our world. The most destructive of all, nuclear weapons, pose the greatest acute existential threat to humanity and life on Earth. To contribute in any way to the dangers such weapons pose is unethical.
In relation to companies that develop, make or profit from such unacceptable weapons:
- I will not accept research or other funds from nor collaborate with such companies;
- I want my university to avoid or end funding from, including for research, and collaboration with such companies.
I want to feel proud to study, work at, or have graduated from, a university that plays no part in the problem of inhumane and indiscriminate weapons, but rather works for their elimination.
In 2016 the University of Melbourne announced that Lockheed Martin (LM) would establish a new STELaRLab (Science, Technology, Engineering Leadership & Research Laboratory) with the university. Its press release described the partnership as “placing Melbourne University in an ideal position to assist Lockheed Martin with their research goals”. Areas flagged for research include hypersonics, robotics, artificial intelligence, sensors and communications. The initial collaborations involve sensors and autonomous vehicles. Both these fields are relevant to development of lethal autonomous weapons systems, in which LM is involved. The UN is looking to ban these weapons.
LM is the world’s largest weapons company and intelligence contractor. It is involved in nuclear targeting, missile defence, drone assassinations, interrogation and a subsidiary has been implicated in torture.
LM has been implicated in repeated corruption scandals and linked with the provision of weapons to repressive regimes and parties accused of war crimes, such as in Yemen.
LM has and seeks further multibillion dollar defence contracts with the Australian government.
Lockheed Martin is heavily involved in nuclear weapons manufacture and infrastructure for deployment. A number of other Australian universities have similar partnerships.
In 2017, the UN adopted the historic Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, which for the first time provides a comprehensive prohibition of the worst weapons of mass destruction; the only weapons that pose an existential threat. The treaty places nuclear weapons on the same unacceptable legal footing as biological and chemical weapons.
Since the treaty’s adoption, a growing number of financial institutions are divesting from companies making nuclear weapons. For its role in the treaty, the Melbourne-founded International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for 2017, the first to an organisation founded in Australia.
This statement and a list of signatories will be communicated to University officials and Council to encourage the University to avoid and end collaboration with companies making WMD and other indiscriminate and inhumane weapons; and may be shared with journalists and made public to encourage public education and discussion of these issues.