Debt Relief for Poor Countries
2001 Action of Immediate Witness
Whereas the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) make loans to developing nations to help stabilize their currencies and to develop their resources such as transportation, hydroelectricity, and water supply;
Whereas many projects did not increase productive capacity enough to repay the debts and the world’s poorer countries now owe over $2 trillion to international lending agencies and to rich nations; Whereas these heavily indebted countries have been further impoverished by debt service they must continually pay to the World Bank, IMF, wealthy lending nations, and other international lending institutions, which, in the poorest countries, exceeds national expenditures on health care and education;
Whereas the amount needed in Africa for treatment and prevention of AIDS is $15 billion per year, while interest on debt in Africa to international lending agencies is $13 billion annually; Whereas the Structural Adjustment Programs imposed on poor countries as conditions of their loans often include requirements that they cut back on health care services and charge user fees for health care andeducation;
Whereas major religious groups, including the Unitarian Universalist Association Board of Trustees at its May 2000 meeting, Unitarian Universalists for a Just Economic Community, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, supported the Jubilee 2000 coalition calling for cancellation of debt of the poor nations; and Whereas Jubilee 2000 made a start, but much more burdensome debt remains to be cancelled in the world's poorest nations;
Be it therefore resolved that the 2001 General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association calls upon its member congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to:
- Support the coalition known as Drop the Debt;
- Ask the leaders of the G-7 nations meeting in Genoa, Italy, in July 2001 to immediately cancel bilateral debt owed by poor countries and to authorize cancellation of debt by international lending agencies;
- Support the World Bank Bonds Boycott campaign seeking to persuade concerned investors to reject World Bank Bonds, which provide 80 percent of the Bank's capital, and through this boycott, to exert moral and financial pressure for major changes;
- Call on international lending organizations to encourage, through their lending policies, anti-corruption efforts in their client countries and to suspend lending to countries that fail to meet standards of transparency in the management of loans;
- Support the Mobilization for Global Justice coalition gathering in Washington, DC, September 28 through October 4, 2001, or similar local assemblies, to demand from the World Bank and IMF immediate debt cancellation and an end to Structural Adjustment Programs that result in user fees for and privatization of human services;
- Call on United States Congressional representatives and Canadian Members of Parliament to allocate ample money for debt cancellation and to legislate requirements that international agencies stop the proliferation of irresponsible debt and end policies resulting in harmful Structural Adjustment Programs; and
- Study within congregations and affiliates and advocate through coalitions more equitable alternative policies and practices for social, economic, and political development toward the goal of world economic justice and democracy.
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