Monday, 19 April 1999

Third World Debt

Jubilee 2000 (J2000) is a concerted international campaign to persuade rich world governments and institutions to remit a proportion of the debt owed to them by developing countries. J2000 is supported by a range of organisations, including trade unions, churches, development agencies and other bodies, such as Friends of the Earth. The key targets are the G8 group of industrial nations and the two international financial institutions, the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

The principle behind the campaign is that third world countries are being crippled by an inherited burden of debt. To meet repayments, they have to cut back on essential services, such as health and education, which means that the already poor become even poorer. And poverty, of course, is a prime cause of environmental degradation. For example, when marginal land is used for cultivation, desertification or deforestation (leading to loss of topsoil) is a probable result.

Pressure from the agencies has already led to international proposals to reduce the debt burden, specifically to the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) plan. Apart from being too slow, the main criticism of this is that it is designed only to reduce debt to whatever a country can pay; it leaves no surplus in the country’s hand to pay for essential infrastructure or for health and education. The J2000 campaign wants debt remission to address the needs of the poor, rather than those of the creditor nations.

Local campaigning groups have formed a Sheffield J2000 Coalition which meets regularly to forward the campaign. Activities have included arranging transport to the G8 summit in Birmingham and petition signing events in the city centre. Meetings are open to all interested persons. So please come along!

The next meeting is on 7th January at 7.30pm in the Quaker Meeting House, 10 St James’ Street, Sheffield.

For more details contact Steve.