Press release

Week of Global Action Against Debt and International Financial Institutions set to begin around the world

14 October 2008 by Debts Campaigns

Hundreds of networks and organizations around the world will mobilize during October 12-19 carrying out different activities for the Week of Global Action Against Debt and International Financial Institutions (IFIs).
Global hunger and the growing impact of climate change are dramatic symptoms of the persistent problem of debt domination. In this sense, the second edition of the Week of Action will place special attention to the following demands: Food and financial sovereignty and climate and economic justice. The debts used to implement harmful projects and policies that have led to the current food, climate and credit crises are illegitimate and should not be paid under any circumstances.

More then 200 global, continental and national networks, organizations and social movements from Asia and the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, North America and Europe have joined the Call of Action demanding the immediate unconditional cancellation of illegitimate debts and an end to the conditionalities of the IFIs such as the IMF IMF
International Monetary Fund
Along with the World Bank, the IMF was founded on the day the Bretton Woods Agreements were signed. Its first mission was to support the new system of standard exchange rates.

When the Bretton Wood fixed rates system came to an end in 1971, the main function of the IMF became that of being both policeman and fireman for global capital: it acts as policeman when it enforces its Structural Adjustment Policies and as fireman when it steps in to help out governments in risk of defaulting on debt repayments.

As for the World Bank, a weighted voting system operates: depending on the amount paid as contribution by each member state. 85% of the votes is required to modify the IMF Charter (which means that the USA with 17,68% % of the votes has a de facto veto on any change).

The institution is dominated by five countries: the United States (16,74%), Japan (6,23%), Germany (5,81%), France (4,29%) and the UK (4,29%).
The other 183 member countries are divided into groups led by one country. The most important one (6,57% of the votes) is led by Belgium. The least important group of countries (1,55% of the votes) is led by Gabon and brings together African countries.
, World Bank World Bank
The World Bank was founded as part of the new international monetary system set up at Bretton Woods in 1944. Its capital is provided by member states’ contributions and loans on the international money markets. It financed public and private projects in Third World and East European countries.

It consists of several closely associated institutions, among which :

1. The International Bank for Reconstruction and Development (IBRD, 189 members in 2017), which provides loans in productive sectors such as farming or energy ;

2. The International Development Association (IDA, 159 members in 1997), which provides less advanced countries with long-term loans (35-40 years) at very low interest (1%) ;

3. The International Finance Corporation (IFC), which provides both loan and equity finance for business ventures in developing countries.

As Third World Debt gets worse, the World Bank (along with the IMF) tends to adopt a macro-economic perspective. For instance, it enforces adjustment policies that are intended to balance heavily indebted countries’ payments. The World Bank advises those countries that have to undergo the IMF’s therapy on such matters as how to reduce budget deficits, round up savings, enduce foreign investors to settle within their borders, or free prices and exchange rates.

and Regional Development Banks as well as the payment of the ecological debts owed to the South
. The organizations summon everyone to mobilize and challenge the IFIs, transnational corporations, and governments (North and South) to acknowledge their responsibilities for the continuing problem of debt domination.

On October 13, dedicated to Climate Change and its relation to debt and the IFIs, movements and organizations in various countries have agreed to send letters to the World Bank and governments - as well as other activities – to express their opposition to the Climate Investment Funds Investment fund
Investment funds
Private equity investment funds (sometimes called ’mutual funds’ seek to invest in companies according to certain criteria; of which they most often are specialized: capital-risk, capital development funds, leveraged buy-out (LBO), which reflect the different levels of the company’s maturity.
proposed by the Bank. As well as demanding the cancellation of illegitimate debt of the Southern countries, the organizations demand the end of financing for projects and policies that exacerbate climate change. In this sense, in Jakarta, Indonesia, social movements will demonstrate in front of the World Bank office against the Bank’s role in climate change related projects.

Until now, around 200 actions in different parts of the world have been confirmed - from public demonstrations and events to demand the cancellation of all debts in more then 20 cities in India to a Peoples Rally Against Debt, IFIs and Privatization which various organizations in the Philippines will be holding. Similarly, in more then 35 districts of Bangladesh, discussions, seminars and workshops such as the workshop ‘Climate Change, the World Bank and the Multi Donor Trust Fund’ and the seminar ‘Trade & Development Finance: Inter-sectoral linkages on food, climate, debt and IFI’.

The construction of an alternative financial architecture in favor of the interests and rights of peoples and the environment will also be an issue of debate during the Week of Global Action. In the context of the current financial crisis, several Latin American networks will launch a statement on alternative mechanisms of financing for development and proposals such as the South Bank and the withdrawal from the International Centre for Investment Dispute Settlement (ICSID ICSID The International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) is a World Bank arbitration mechanism for resolving disputes that may arise between States and foreign investors. It was established in 1965 when the Washington Convention of that year entered into force.

Contrary to some opinions defending the fact that ICSID mechanism has been widely accepted in the American hemisphere, many States in the region continue to keep their distance: Canada, Cuba, Mexico and Dominican Republic are not party to the Convention. In the case of Mexico, this attitude is rated by specialists as “wise and rebellious”. We must also recall that the following Caribbean States remain outside the ICSID jurisdiction: Antigua and Barbuda, Belize, Dominica (Commonwealth of) and Suriname. In South America, Brazil has not ratified (or even signed) the ICSID convention and the 6th most powerful world economy seems to show no special interest in doing so.

In the case of Costa Rica, access to ICSID system is extremely interesting: Costa Rica signed the ICSID Convention in September, 1981 but didn’t ratify it until 12 years later, in 1993. We read in a memorandum of GCAB (Global Committee of Argentina Bondholders) that Costa Rica`s decision resulted from direct United States pressure due to the Santa Elena expropriation case, which was decided in 2000 :
"In the 1990s, following the expropriation of property owned allegedly by an American investor, Costa Rica refused to submit the dispute to ICSID arbitration. The American investor invoked the Helms Amendment and delayed a $ 175 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank to Costa Rica. Costa Rica consented to the ICSID proceedings, and the American investor ultimately recovered U.S. $ 16 million”.
) of the World Bank Group, as carried out by the government of Bolivia.

A few weeks after the official presentation of the report of the debt audit carried out by the government of Ecuador through the Integral Public Credit Audit Commission (CAIC, in its Spanish abbreviation), local organizations will hold a “Citizen forum on the results of the audit” and a debate on debt illegitimacy in the city of Guayaquil. Not far from there in Colombia, activities will be held throughout the Week, such as “Debates on debt illegitimacy and the impact on the human rights of women“ and a cultural demonstration against debt and for the right to water, health, education and a healthy environment in the city of Bogotá. Organizations in Cuba have also joined the Call and are organizing an event on foreign debt and the financial crisis.

In the meanwhile in the financial centre of Buenos Aires, an open radio program and street demonstrations for the “Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and the Struggle Against the Debt” will be carried out. Campesino organizations of Paraguay prepare various events on “Social and ecological debts” and a “Tribunal against the IFIs“ in the cities of Itapua and Encarnación.

More then 20 screening of documentaries which deal with the debt issue along with open debates will be carried out in many cities around the world such as the film “¿An end to poverty?” of Philippe Diaz which will be shown in Rabat and Casablanca, Morocco. “The Congo-China contract, the IMF and the World Bank and the reimbursement conditions” will be the issue of televised public debates in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. In Togo a special radio program in be held in tribute to Thomas Sankara (ex–president of Burkina Faso who called for debt cancellation and repudiation just before being assassinated) and other leaders for global change, while a conference-debate ’’China and its role in Africa´s debt situation’’ will be held in Niger.

More then 40 activities in churches and communities will be organized in the United States, while in Madrid the Week of Action will begin with a bicycle ride against debt from the main square. Elsewhere, capacity-building activities on debt and rights are being organized in Belgium and in the United Kingdom, a new email action calling on the UK to support a fair and transparent sovereign debt Sovereign debt Government debts or debts guaranteed by the government. resolution mechanism at the Financing for Development conference in Doha will be carried, out amongst other activities.

The Week of Global Action Against Debt and the IFIs also coincides with various special dates such as:
October 12 – Continental Day of Resistance Against Colonialism and Neoliberalism (in the Americas),
October 15 - Anniversary of the death of Thomas Sankara,
October 16 - Day of Action for Food Sovereignty and
October 17 – Global Day of Action against Poverty.

Special activities are being planned in many other countries such as Nicaragua, Honduras, El Salvador, Brazil, Peru, Pakistan, Cameroon and Benin. A complete list of the activities can be found on the Week´s website (in English, Spanish, and French) along with the most important news on the Week, articles, graphic material and documents related to the different issues.

The Week of Global Action Against Debt and the IFIs is a part of the International Campaign on Illegitimate Debt carried out by networks and movements of the South and North, such as Jubilee South, the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM), Eurodad, Jubilee USA and Eurodad, united by the struggle against illegitimate debt.

Support for the Call of Action is still being received and organizations are invited to send information on their planned activities to debtweek at

The complete Call of Action can be found in:

Contacts: For more information on the Week of Action:
jubileo at +5411 43071867 – +54 911 41781117

Contacts International Campaign on Illegitimate Debt:

Jubilee South - js at
Global coordination: Beverly Keene +54 11 43071867 - +54(9)11-55690140
Latin America and the Caribbean: Laura Yanella, Press and Communications +5411-43071867
Asia and the Pacific: Lidy Nacpil – +63 2925 3036
Africa: Njoki Njoroge Njehu – +254(0) 7 2322 9426

United States:
Jubilee USA – Neil Watkins - (202) 783-0129

EURODAD – Alex Wilks - +32 2 543 90 67
CADTM – Mryiam Bourgy – +32 (0) 4 226 62 85



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