WASHINGTON - September 9 - Oxfam International warns that inaction at the upcoming World Bank and IMF meetings will derail the landmark debt relief deal pledged by G8 leaders in July.
G8 leaders agreed to cancel debts owed by the poorest countries and to stop using their aid to force governments to adopt ill-conceived policies such as wholesale privatization or trade liberalization.
Over the weekend, rich country shareholders and World Bank and IMF staff will meet and try to undo and water down these commitments.
Oxfam urges them to instead devote their efforts to making real the G8 promises and to go further for the world's poor.
"The world is watching and will not tolerate backsliding and bickering that costs lives," said Bernice Romero, advocacy director of Oxfam International.
Shareholders at the World Bank and IMF must finalize and immediately implement the agreed debt deal and expand the commitment to include all the countries that need their debts cancelled to fight poverty.
The World Bank and IMF must also make clear statements about how they will dramatically reduce the number and complexity of the conditions they attach to aid and debt relief for poor countries. Countries must be able to decide their economic policies and not have them dictated by Washington, as the G8 leaders established.
"Poor countries have to jump through countless hoops that undermine their ability to fight poverty. Ethiopia had to comply with 85 separate policy actions this year alone. This must not continue," said Romero.
Attempts to undermine the debt agreement stand in stark contrast to the unprecedented mobilization of campaigners worldwide demanding and expecting real action by their leaders to end poverty.