ESG Data Guide 2023

ISS ESG - Controversial Weapons Research

Data category

  • Indices/Exchange data
  • Research data

The data offers solutions for:

  • Investment decisions and portfolio insight
  • Reporting: CSRD
  • Reporting: Impact

Who are the data users?

  • Corporates
  • Trustees
  • Investors
  • Government
  • Financial institutions
  • Index providers; Institutional investors; Asset managers; Asset owners; Fund managers; Banks; Universities; Research firms

Brief description of the data offering

ISS ESG’s Controversial Weapons Research is a well-established analysis methodology that helps investors make decisions regarding companies directly or indirectly involved in the development, production, maintenance or sale of weapons that are illegal—as their production and use is prohibited by international legal instruments—or deemed particularly controversial because of their indiscriminate effects and the disproportionate harm they cause.

Specifically, ISS ESG’s service identifies and assesses corporate involvement the following:

  • Biological weapons
  • Chemical weapons
  • Anti-personnel mines
  • Cluster munitions
  • Depleted uranium ammunition and armour
  • Incendiary weapons
  • White phosphorus weapons
  • Nuclear weapons programmes in recognized nuclear-weapon states(United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China)
  • Nuclear weapons programmes outside the Non-Proliferation Treaty (“NPT”), i.e. in countries other than the five recognized nuclear-weapon states, regardless of company domicile

Controversial Weapons Research covers approximately 27,700 issuers as of March 2022.

Where and how do you source your data?

ISS ESG conducts a comprehensive, systematic review of open sources such as company publications, contract award notifications by government authorities, military specialized magazines and publications by research organizations and non-governmental organizations. 

Active company and stakeholder dialogues are also a key component of the research process. ISS ESG engages in a fact-finding dialogue with companies as soon as research is initiated and offers companies an opportunity to review the analysis and submit relevant complementary documentation. This dialogue continues for as long as ISS ESG maintains its assessment on the company.

ISS ESG also consults with experts and field specialists (commonly representatives of state institutions, inter-governmental organizations, academia, NGOs) to cross-check information and deepen the understanding of benchmark corporate practices.

What is the cost for your data offering?

Pricing is based on the method by which data is delivered. ISS ESG can provide data via its proprietary platform, DataDesk, or via data feed. Pricing for this solution is available upon request.

What are the key attributes that differentiates the data you offer?

  • Granular flagging and scoring system. Controversial Weapons Research findings are categorized by traffic light signals based on status and level of involvement and verification and given a numeric score to provide additional granularity based on type of activity and ownership.
  • A well-established analysis methodology. Alignment with legal definitions, national requirements and recognized conventions ensures international relevance and supports compliance at a national level. Additionally, ISS ESG’s assessment at the weapons program level and throughout the full lifecycle of such programmes ensures exhaustiveness.
  • Focus on company and stakeholder engagement. ISS ESG engages in fact-finding dialogue with companies upon initiation of research into a reported allegation. As part of this dialogue, the company is presented with the allegation and offered an opportunity to state its position.
  • Dynamic assessments updated as new information becomes available. ISS ESG systematically tracks developments on relevant controversies in the 24-hour news cycle and makes updates to assessments as new information become available and validated.
  • Insights from industry specialists. ISS ESG employs a number of researchers with specialized backgrounds and focused on military and defence issues. Members of the Weapons and Sanctions team have previously worked at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), a world-renowned research institute focusing on the defence industry and disarmament or have backgrounds in controversial weapons screening.
  • An integrated environmental, social and governance solution. The service combination of the various governance and responsible investment related services offered by ISS allows investors to address ESG challenges with one common approach and rely on global account management and research teams able to offer coherent and unified answers and solutions to their ESG needs. ISS ESG is a true one-stop shop, able to support investors across all ESG related topics.


Assess companies’ involvement in controversial #weapons: cluster munitions, anti-personnel mines, depleted uranium, #nuclear weapons, biological & chemical weapons, with @ISSESG's Controversial Weapons Research: