printer printer Click on the green icon on the right
Jubilee Debt Campaign calls for urgent implementation of the Commission for Africa’s proposals on debt cancellation
by Jubilee Debt Campaign
11 March 2005

Jubilee Debt Campaign is calling on Tony Blair to meet the challenge laid down by the Commission for Africa’s proposals on debt cancellation, committing the UK government to exert maximum political pressure on the G8 to rapidly deliver the commitment and the resources needed to turn good intentions into reality, and end once and for all the practice of using debt relief as a tool for imposing economic policies on Africa’s poorest nations.

Stephen Rand, Co Chair of Jubilee Debt Campaign, said ‘It is encouraging to see many of our campaign objectives now part of the proposals being placed in front of the world’s richest nations. The Commission has endorsed our criticisms of the debt relief schemes of the past few years and recognised the need for urgent action - even pushing the UK government beyond the proposals it has made in recent months.’

‘The real challenge now is to maintain the pressure on the G8 to rapidly deliver the political will and the resources needed to turn good intentions into reality. We never forget that every day that passes means that children die unnecessarily as a result of poverty.’

The Commission for Africa report ‘Our Common Interest’, launched across the world on Friday 11th March, recommends 100 per cent debt cancellation ‘as soon as possible’ for the poor countries in sub-Saharan Africa which need it in order to meet poverty targets. It recognises that current efforts at debt relief have not been ‘wide enough, or deep enough.’ It argues that the key criterion for debt relief should be that ‘the money be used to deliver development, economic growth and the reduction of poverty for countries actively promoting good governance.’

The report also recommends a new ‘transparent debt compact’ that would include all sub-Saharan African low-income countries and cancel debt stock and debt service by up to 100 per cent ‘where this is necessary to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.’

Stephen Rand added ‘Jubilee Debt Campaign welcomes that the Commission has recognised the need to widen the number of countries eligible for debt cancellation; that the world’s poorest countries need to be protected from law suits intended to extract payment on debts not included in debt relief proposals; that debt relief is a highly effective way of combating poverty; that it needs to be financed with new resources, not at the expense of existing aid budgets.’

‘Above all, we are delighted to read that the intention of the proposals is ‘to clear the slate for a fresh start.’ This has been our demand since the start of Jubilee 2000 nearly ten years ago. But it is because of this that we do have some concerns:

· We insist that the new debt compact is created rapidly, and not become a reason for further delay.

· It must genuinely be a fair and transparent process, and not compromised by being largely in the hands of those institutions that have failed to deliver in the past. The proposals for reform of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank are therefore vital - but potentially also a further source of delay.

· While the report recognises that conditionality must be reduced and country ownership enhanced, we need to be convinced that in practice debt relief is no longer going to be used as a tool for imposing harmful economic policies on poor countries.’

Jubilee Debt Campaign is playing an active part in the Make Poverty History coalition, which is calling on the G8 leaders to take urgent measures in 2005 to ensure that trade justice, debt cancellation and more and better aid can deliver the resources that will enable real progress in the battle against poverty.

The Commission’s recommendations on debt reflect many of those contained in the report produced by Jubilee Debt Campaign on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group on Heavily Indebted Poor Countries as a submission to the Commission for Africa, entitled ‘If not now, when?’


1. The full text of the Commission for Africa’s report will be available at from 9.30 am Friday 11th March.

2. The full text of the All Party Parliamentary Group on HIPC’s submission to the Commission for Africa, written by Stephen Rand and produced by Jubilee Debt Campaign can be seen at

3. Jubilee Debt Campaign is working with campaigns around the world to call for debt cancellation in 2005.

4. Jubilee Debt Campaign and Jubilee Scotland are running a WIPE OUT DEBT campaign: campaigners are sending postcards and emails to the G7 Finance Ministers.

5. Jubilee Debt Campaign is playing a central role within MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY, a unique coalition of campaigns, charities, unions, faith groups and celebrities demanding action on debt, trade justice and aid

6. The original debts of the world’s 52 poorest and most indebted countries amounted to $375 billion. The G7 / 8 has promised to cancel $100 billion of this, and has actually cancelled $49 billion.

7. 42 countries are eligible for the current international debt relief scheme (the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries [HIPC] initiative). G7 countries, the World Bank and the IMF have promised to cancel all the bilateral debts and 65% of the multilateral debts of these countries - subject to a number of unfair economic policy conditions such as privatisation of public services and caps on social expenditure. They have not, however, pledged sufficient funds to realise these promises or eliminated these damaging conditions.

8. The UK has pledged an additional £100 million to fund cancellation of 10% (calculated as its ‘share’) of the debts to the World Bank and African Development Bank of countries that complete the HIPC scheme (15 at present) and other countries that meet their criteria of ‘reforming economies’.


Stephen Rand, Co Chair, Jubilee Debt Campaign, 07889 158215
stephen at

Jubilee Debt Campaign