Unfinished business: 10 years of drop the debt
Despite the commitments made by world leaders over the last ten years to tackle the debt crisis, the $88 billion of poor country debt that has so far been cancelled is not enough, the report finds.
Unfinished Business: Ten years of dropping the debt is released on the tenth anniversary of the 70,000-strong human chain in Birmingham on 16 May 1998.
It looks back at the seminal events of May 1998 and asks: just how far have we come?
Read the report
You can download the full 44-page report in two versions:
- Unfinished Business - low resolution version (1.03MB)
- Unfinished Business - higher quality version (1.97MB)
You can also download a campaigner's summary of the report:
About the report
On 16 May 1998, 70,000 people from across Britain and the world took part in one of the biggest demonstrations the UK had ever seen: a human chain around the G8 summit in Birmingham, demanding an end to poor country debt. It was a day that changed the world for millions of people.
The human chain in 1998 catapulted the issue of debt to the top of the G8 agenda, leading to large commitments for debt cancellation. It was a turning point in the ability of ordinary people directly to influence the policies of global financial institutions – and to move towards justice on behalf of the world’s poor.
But it was not enough. Ten years later, the report looks back at the seminal events of May 1998, to assess just how far we have – and haven’t – come. After a brief survey of the roots of the debt crisis, it looks at the key elements of the debt problem: the unpayable nature of much of the debt; the unjust origins of much of the debt; the unfair processes of debt cancellation; and the need to act now to prevent a future debt crisis.
Jubilee Debt Campaign estimates that over $400 billion of debt must be cancelled for around 100 countries, simply to allow them to meet their people’s basic needs.
The schemes established for debt cancellation have so far wiped out around $88 billion. Put in simple and very approximate terms, around a fifth of the debt cancellation that would be required simply to meet the basic needs and rights of citizens in poor countries has so far been delivered.
On top of this, much of the debt is unjust, originating in irresponsible lending decisions. This debt should be cancelled outright, on the grounds of illegitimacy.
Our demand is the same one that united 70,000 people in Birmingham in 1998. We call for an end to unpayable and unjust debt.
- The cancellation of the unpayable debts – over $400 billion for around 100 poor countries.
- A new definition of ‘sustainable’ debts, in terms of human need, to be used as the basis for cancelling unpayable debts.
- The auditing of poor country debts and the cancellation of those that have resulted from irresponsible lending.
- The establishment of a fair and transparent process for working out debt disputes.
- The participation in debt cancellation processes of those creditors who have been least engaged in the process so far, especially commercial creditors; this would prevent ‘vulture fund’ activity.
- An end to the imposition of economic policy conditions attached to debt relief.
- The creation and implementation of enforceable criteria for responsible lending.
It’s not a matter of charity. It’s a matter of justice.