Trinity College Cambridge votes to divest from arms companies six days after ICJP submitted Charity Commission complaint

London, 13th May 2024- Following a campaign by the International Centre of Justice for Palestinians and mounting pressure from its students, Trinity College Cambridge’s college council has finally voted to divest from arms companies supplying Israel. Whilst this is a welcome and important development, Trinity must go further and cease investments in companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories.

The development comes less than a week after ICJP submitted a formal complaint to the Charity Commission requesting an investigation into Trinity’s investments. The complaint outlined how Trinity’s investments may be in violation of domestic and international law. The decision to report the College came following two separate notices to Trinity which ICJP did not receive a response to. 

On 28th February 2024, ICJP issued Trinity College Cambridge with a legal notice indicating that officers, directors and shareholders at the College may be individually criminally liable if they maintain their investments in arms companies that are potentially complicit in Israeli war crimes and crimes against humanity. On 30thApril, ICJP issued Trinity a follow up warning, along with 82 other British universities. 

The initial notice was sent following information released under the Freedom of Information Act that Trinity College Cambridge had investments worth millions in American, British and Japanese companies which are directly involved in Israel’s current military campaign in Gaza, including a £61,735 investment in Israeli arms manufacturer Elbit Systems. Other companies included Caterpillar, General Electric, Toyota Corporation, Rolls-Royce, Barclays Bank and L3Harris Industries.

Whilst investment in arms companies have ceased, it is not clear whether Trinity also plans to divest from companies operating in illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian territories (oPt). Companies such as Caterpillar have longstanding roles in home demolitions of Palestinian people across the oPt and Trinity and other colleges and universities should ensure that they are not investing in these companies either.

Along with other educational institutions, Trinity also came under mounting grassroots pressure from its own students, who did not want their tuition fees to be used to invest in arms companies complicit in Israel’s genocide in Gaza.

Legal Officer Mira Naseer said:

“This is an important win for the movement. Students across the world have campaigned tirelessly to urge their universities to divest from arms companies potentially complicit in Israel’s genocide, and now we are starting to see results. The fact that Trinity is Cambridge’s wealthiest college is a real symbolic victory and other colleges and universities must now follow suit.

But it’s important to remember that companies that Trinity invests in are not only potentially complicit in Israel’s latest assault on Gaza, but also have a track record of providing equipment that has been used in home demolitions, the illegal Israeli separation wall in the West Bank and around Jerusalem, and other tools of apartheid. It’s good to see that Trinity has divested from arms companies, but it’s only the first step.”

Notes to Editors:

  1. The International Centre of Justice for Palestinians is an independent organisation of lawyers, politicians and academics who support the rights of Palestinians and aim to protect their rights through the law.
  2. Press releases for ICJP’s earlier notices to Trinity can be read here and here.
  3. For more information, or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson, please contact ICJP news desk at [email protected].