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American Friends Service Committee

JUNE 14, 2005
3:55 PM

CONTACT: American Friends Service Committee
Janis D. Shields, Director Media and Public Relations
(215) 241-7060 After Hours: (302) 545-6596


The American Friends Service Committee's Life Over Debt Campaign Applauds Success of Global Debt Cancellation Movements
Social Justice Organization Urges 100% Debt Cancellation for 33 Additional Impoverished Countries; Says 100% Debt Cancellation by the G-8 For Fourteen African Countries Not Enough


PHILADELPHIA - June 14 - The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC), an international social justice organization, praises the recent cancellation of the multilateral debt owed by fourteen African countries. However, the Service Committee stresses that these nations represent only a small portion of the countries in urgent need of debt cancellation.

“After twenty years of involvement with the global campaign to cancel debt, AFSC is delighted that Mozambique, Zambia, Tanzania and 11 other impoverished countries in Africa now have the ability to invest in their own development,” said Imani Countess, coordinator of the American Friends Service Committee Africa Program, which over the past two years, has sponsored a Life Over Debt campaign designed to increase awareness of Africa’s debt and the need for cancellation.

“The life and death urgency of these issues demand we remain committed to this cause,” stressed Mary Ellen McNish, AFSC general secretary. “Global economic justice is the bedrock of a peaceful world. We can celebrate this victory while continuing to call attention to the plight of other struggling nations.”

The comments followed an announcement last weekend by the finance ministers of the world’s wealthiest nations (G-8), which was able to secure an agreement that will result in the 100% cancellation of multilateral debts for fourteen African countries and four Latin American countries. The G8 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Excitement over the deal was felt throughout Africa. Mozambique’s Prime Minister Luisa Diogo, remarked “this is an important decision that means we can have more money saved from debt servicing being directed to education, health, infrastructure and social sectors.”

But the agreement doesn’t go far enough. Countries deemed eligible are those that have graduated from the World Bank and International Monetary Fund’s Heavily Indebted and Poor Country (HIPC) initiative, which requires countries to restructure their economies in a way that results in harsh cuts in social spending.

“To impose economic policy conditions for canceling what is often odious and illegitimate in the first place, reinforces strategies that have failed to lift these countries out of poverty,” explains Jessica Walker Beaumont, AFSC trade and debt specialist.

Over the next six months the Service Committee will work to build support of the Jubilee Act (HR 1130), which seeks debt cancellation for 33 other countries that urgently need cancellation of their odious or illegitimate debts.

“Our aim remains unchanged as we prepare for the Group of 8 meeting and beyond; we will continue to advocate for debt cancellation, without harmful conditions, for the 33 indebted African countries not included in this agreement,” Countess explains.


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