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CADTM’s contribution to preparing the Havana meeting (28-30 Sept 2005)
28 August 2005

This is the initial contribution of the CADTM to the discussion to prepare the GLOBAL STRATEGY MEETING ON RESISTANCE AND ALTERNATIVES TO EXTERNAL, SOCIAL, AND ECOLOGICAL DEBT, in Havana, Cuba, September 28-30, 2005.

During the 5th World Social Forum in Porto Alegre in January 2005 we, the various movements and networks who work internationally on the debt, met three times and held some very fruitful discussions. The present situation means it is especially important that all activists and networks without exclusion who are working towards debt cancellation in “developing countries” and to end structural adjustment policies, be engaged in discussion together. During these debates we must try to launch a new joint worldwide campaign on the question of the debt.
The meeting in Havana, which will take place from 28 to 30 September 2005, is an important chance which we must use constructively.

The present situation

1) Over the last few years, the developing countries, taken as a single whole, have accumulated foreign reserve assets worth more than US $1600.000.000.000. This sum is greater than their total external public debt. In fact, as the latest World Bank report admits [1], the developing countries as a group are net creditors and net capital exporters.
And yet the external debt does not go down. The populations continue to suffer deeply from the effects of the debt and structural adjustments.

2) The individuals who have recently been appointed at the head of both the IMF and the World Bank are among the most aggressive defenders of neoliberal policies. The same is true of other institutions such as UNICEF, UNCTAD, WTO, etc.

3) Argentina has shown that it is possible for a country to stand up to its private creditors (even though the Argentinean government should have put up an even stronger resistance to its creditors and of course to the World Bank and the IMF.

4) 10 years on, the HIPC initiative has not solved the debt problem of the countries it has been applied to. On the contrary it has made their situation worse through its reinforced Structural Adjustment Programmes.

5). A new debt crisis could affect a series of countries in the coming years due to a rise in interest rates combined with a possible drop in the prices of raw materials (in fact a replay of the 1979-1982 scenario)

Questions for the activists and networks of the South and the North :

- Do we agree on demanding total cancellation of the external public debt of all the developing countries?
- Do we agree to refuse conditionality imposed by the creditors?
- Do we agree to support the DCs who stop repaying debts?
- Do we agree to support countries who decide to break agreements with the IMF and the World Bank?
- Do we agree to support debt audits, whether they are instigated by civil society, the authorities or both?
- Do we agree to demand reparation for the historical debt and the environmental debt, owed by the North to the South.

On the 10 June 2005, the following organisations Jubilee South, Afrodad, Kairos Canada, Halifax Initiative Canada, 50 Years is Enough (USA), Jubilee USA, Campagna per la Riforma de la Banca Mondiale (CRBM - Italy), Comité pour l’Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde (CADTM), Slug (Norway) agreed on a joint communiqué which ended on demands which would make a starting point for a new joint worldwide campaign.

“We, the undersigned civil society organisations therefore reiterate our calls for:

The cancellation in full of the debts of all South countries, starting with the most impoverished and countries in crisis. Debt service cancellation over 10 years is not enough since come 2015, around 70% of poor country debt will still remain on the books [2].

This cancellation to be carried out in such a way that governments have more money to spend on their peoples’ welfare. This implies that money be taken from the multilaterals’ reserves and extra contributions from Northern governments [3].

This cancellation should be unconditional.

Creditors to recognise their co-responsibility for odious debts.

The international architecture governing debt and finance to be fundamentally overhauled so that debtors and creditors are placed on an equal footing.

South/North Civil Society Debt Group

The South/North civil society working group on debt is composed of networks and organisations across the globe working for social justice and a lasting solution to the debt crisis. It was established at the Global IFI strategy meeting in Accra, Ghana, February 2005.

Members: Jubilee South, Afrodad, Kairos Canada, Halifax Initiative Canada, 50 Years is Enough (USA), Jubilee USA, Campagna per la Riforma de la Banca Mondiale (CRBM - Italy), Comité pour l’ Annulation de la Dette du Tiers Monde (CADTM), Slug (Norway)” see

We could use the above statement as a starting point and improve on it during the Havana meeting.

We would like to see explicitly added that:

1) We reject neoliberal policies (we refuse privatisations, reject policies which expect that all costs should be recuperated from the people; especially concerning services such as public health, education, water supplies etc. we refuse increases in VAT and other indirect taxation, reject the Doha agenda, etc.) and we demand governance which places human rights at the centre of its policies.

2) we will support countries who stop servicing debt and who invest in welfare.

3) we demand that the social, historical and environmental debt be taken into account.
The necessity of debt audits also need to be clearly stated.

This is an initial list to be corrected and completed.

Footnotes :

[1World Bank, Global Development Finance 2005, Washington DC, avril 2005.

[2Multilateral Debt Cancellation: Recent Proposals Explained, Sony Kapoor for Eurodad, January 2005, see:

[3See African NGO Statement on Debt Cancellation Proposals, coordinated by Afrodad, March 2005. See: See also, Multilateral Debt Cancellation: Recent Proposals Explained, Sony Kapoor for Eurodad, January 2005, see: