According to a United Nations Human Development report "More than 21 million children could die unnecessarily between 1997 and 2000 as a result of the debt crisis.
Jubilee 2000 is a call to the richer nations, banks and international lenders to allow the World's poorest countries to begin the new millennium free from the burden of unsustainable debt.
According to the book of Leviticus 25:4-55, God's people were to celebrate Jubilee every 50 years. The Jubilee was not just an excuse for a party. It was about changing the relationship between rich and poor by requiring large landholders to restore their lands and homes to people who had lost them. The Jubilee Year went one step further than the Sabbatical Year when creditors were required to forgive their debts and when slaveholders were required to let their slaves go free.
What better spirit in which to approach the next millennium when our suffering world so desperately needs a new start.
Who is behind Jubilee 2000
Jubilee 2000 was launched in April 1996 by Christian Aid, Tear Fund and CAFOD.
It has since received endorsement from dozens of Christian organisations including the General Synod of the Church of England, the General Assembly of the Baptist Church, the Methodist Council, the United Reformed Church, Quaker Peace and Service, the Council of Churches for Britain and Ireland, the National Black Alliance, Evangelical Christians for Racial Justice, USPG, and World Vision.
And we're not alone!
It is not just Christians who are calling for richer countries and international lending institutions to do something about international debt.
The Reform Synagogues of Great Britain have also lent their support and similar campaigns have taken off in more than 20 countries.
Is Jubilee 2000 asking the impossible?
The Jubilee 2000 campaign is not asking that all debt be cancelled by the year 2000. It is asking for:
- complete cancellation of debt only for those countries whose income per person is less than $700 per year.
- partial cancellation of debt for those countries whose income per person is between $700 and $2,000 per year.
The real irresponsibility has so far been with the lenders.
Western governments made huge loans to prop up often corrupt allies and to fund military expenditure. And, private lenders took advantage of the "moral hazard" arising from the fact that they couldn't lose because even if borrowers defaulted, multilateral governmental bodies would step in to make up the difference.
Jubilee 2000 seeks to ensure that debt relief will benefit the poor and will not be used to support corruption, inefficiency or systematic violations of human rights.
Is the Jubilee 2000 campaign just a single-issue campaign?
No... Jubilee 2000 recognises that debt relief on its own is not enough. So does the British government which in a recent White paper committed itself to taking a fresh look at the interconnection of aid, trade and debt-relief.
Each year Developing Countries pay the West three times more in debt repayments than they receive in aid.
The human cost of unsustainable debt
The debt burden is killing people because people cannot afford to go to hospital. If they don't have drugs, they die. It is a direct result of the debt crisis. - General Secretary of the Anglican Church on Tanzania.
Zambia: Once one of the richest countries in Africa, now every Zambian owes the country's creditors more than three times the average annual wage.
In Latin America and the Caribbean
There are no real possibilities that the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean will assume the colossal debts contracted by our governments. It isn't even feasible to continue paying the high interest at the cost of sacrificing our development and well-being. - The Cardinal Archbishop of San Paulo.
We in the West have a moral responsibility to find ways of reducing substantially the crushing burden of debt which compromises the economies of entire nations and sends millions to early graves. - Archbishop of Canterbury, January 1998.
The Lambeth Conference is expected to give debt relief a place near the top of its agenda.
Make a Date to Break a Chain
- Birmingham, 16th May 1998.
Every year the leaders of the world's most powerful nations - USA, UK, Germany, Japan, France, Italy, Canada, Russia and China - meet for the G8 summit. This year they meet in Birmingham.
Please join us to demonstrate to these leaders the need for a substantial debt cancellation for the world's poorest nations to coincide with the Millennium. We need thousands of people to form a human chain around the Summit and present the start of the Jubilee 2000 petition.
If they can do it for the countryside, we can do it for the world's poorest people. Coaches are going from this area (cost approx. £8, concessions £5). Please see Lynn Winter if you would like to go (although please remember this is the day of the Summer Fête).
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page last updated 1 MAY 1998