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Debt, Corruption and Tax Policies Impact Poverty, Says Vatican at United Nations

WASHINGTON - During United Nations Human Rights Council meetings last week, Archbishop Ivan Jurkovič, the Geneva based Vatican representative stated, “We can no longer frame the debt crisis as an exclusively economic problem. It affects future generations, as well as the social conditions that allow the enjoyment of human rights of vast numbers of people entitled to the solidarity of the whole human family.” Jurkovič’s intervention during the UN Meetings called for, “stronger policies around public budget transparency, responsible lending and borrowing, securing greater development protections, stronger debt restructuring policies and fiscal strategies that curb tax evasion and corruption.”

“Archbishop Jurkovič’s speech is incredibly timely and expresses urgency to improve debt, tax and transparency policies to protect vulnerable people,” expressed Eric LeCompte who leads the interfaith religious development group, Jubilee USA. The organization counts the Catholic Church among its founders working with Jubilee USA for over 20 years on economic issues. “The speech is important because it calls for world leaders to promote development measures that tackle inequality and prevent financial crisis.”

The speech was made during The 37th Session of the Human Rights Council on Report of the Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of human rights. The report that the Vatican and world governments discussed at the United Nations session was prepared by UN Independent Expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky.

“The Holy See recognizes that severe human rights impacts resulting from the recent financial crisis have been widely and well documented. Policy responses to the crisis have revealed a deep-seated structural neglect of human rights in economic policy formulation, insufficient protection of the most disadvantaged and a lack of attention to participation, consultation, transparency and accountability,” stated Jurkovič whose official title is the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

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During the address, Jurkovič reiterated concerns around “predatory firms that take advantage of economies in distress,” or groups popularly known as “vulture funds.” The statement endorsed a United Nations “bankruptcy” process for countries that is supported by Pope Francis. Setting targets to curb global corruption and tax evasion were also encouraged during the Vatican diplomat’s remarks.

“The developing world loses more than a trillion dollar a year because of tax evasion, corruption, bad debt policies and vulture funds,” said LeCompte who serves on UN expert finance groups. “From Puerto Rico to Mozambique, people are suffering because of a lack of transparency in the financial system. We have the ability to dramatically reduce poverty, if we can improve accountability in global economic policies.”

Read Archbishop Jurkovič’s United Nation Holy See Speech

Read the Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky UN Independent Debt and Human Rights Expert Report

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Jubilee USA Network is an alliance of more than 75 US organizations and 650 faith communities working with 50 Jubilee global partners. Jubilee USA builds an economy that serves, protects and promotes the participation of the most vulnerable. Jubilee USA wins critical global financial reforms and won more than $130 billion in debt relief to benefit the world's poorest people. www.jubileeusa.org

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