1. The present situation
Since the beginning of the 1980s the poorest countries have seen their development dragged down by the weight of debt. Nevertheless growth has been generalised throughout the world - by more than 3 per cent a year in the advanced economies as a whole - but the highly indebted poor countries - HIPCs - have derived no benefit from that. The debt of the poorest countries has risen to $350 billion. In Africa the debt represents 60 per cent of the GNP.
Efforts at debt reduction have so far been clearly insufficient. It is not longer possible to be content with partial solutions - such as reschedulings and refinancings - which just postpone the problem rather than tackle it.
Cancellation of the debt - whether bilateral or multilateral - of the poorest countries in order to:
• assure a new generation of a future freed from this burden
• use the freedom of manoeuvre afforded by the ending of debt service to fight against poverty for more just and democratic societies, and to finance basic social services (health, education and local development).
3. The campaign
National action plans must be established in order to:
• Mobilise Europeans: the Cairo EU-Africa Summit in April 2000 is an important step forward. This dialogue, the framework and content of which are promising signs of putting into practice a process of solidarity between Africa and Europe, must be continued with a view to an equal partnership. Each country of the Union must undertake to abandon the whole of its bilateral financial claims against the poorest
• Bring in the United States: at the G8 Summit in Cologne, the most industrialised countries formally undertook action through the Highly Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative. The finance for this must be urgently put in place at the G8 meeting in 2000 in Okinawa.
• The SI must solemnly ask the United States to undertake its responsibilities in the international community's action to support the poor countries.
• Act within the international financial institutions - IMF and World Bank - to change their ways of intervening on debt questions.
A gathering with the NGOs in Paris in 2001 to set in motion the plans for combatting poverty.
© 2000 Socialist International