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Resolution on the Jubilee 2000 Campaign to Cancel the Unsustainable International Debt of Highly Indebted Poor Countries

As adopted* by the NCC General Assembly Nov. 12, 1998

WHEREAS millions of poor people in highly indebted countries are prevented from enjoying an equitable share in the fruits of the earth and cannot live in dignity nor meet their family's basic needs because debt repayment has stifled economic development;

WHEREAS high levels of debt divert scarce resources from health care, education, clean water and other socially beneficial programs to make debt service payments, and the poorest in these indebted societies are most hurt by this diversion of their governments' resources;

WHEREAS increased need for foreign currency in poor countries to repay international debt, encourages export of cash crops that results in heavy overused of land and destruction of the environment;

WHEREAS much of the debt results from borrowing that has benefited primarily the rich while the burden of repaying the debt falls heavily on poor people, and can not be paid without causing great social and environmental harm to the most impoverished members of society;

WHEREAS high debt payments divert government resources from investment in infrastructure and socio-economic development;

WHEREAS the debilitating cycle of debt exacerbates mass tragedy in cases of natural disaster, as evidence in Honduras and Nicaragua following Hurricane Mitch;

WHEREAS debt repayment obligations cripple nations' ability to respond to critical human need and implement reconstruction and development;

WHEREAS the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the USA has long affirmed that inequities in the international economy must be addressed and that the justice of God is fulfilled by replacing these inequities with a relationship that can be found righteous in the sight of God;

WHEREAS advocates worldwide for action to address the crushing international debt crises of poor countries recall the biblical concept of Jubilee, a time when slaves are set free, debts are canceled, and a new beginning is created for people whose lives have been degraded by indebtedness;

WHEREAS the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund have introduced the highly indebted poor countries initiative (HIPC), to comprehensively address the debt of poor countries, but the initiative is limited and by itself will not be sufficient to lift the crushing burden on the poor;

WHEREAS Jubilee 2000, a worldwide grassroots movement calls for the cancellation of the poorest countries' debt by the year 2000 in order to create a debt free start for a billion people;

WHEREAS the World Council of Churches recognizing that countries cannot be highly impoverished, highly indebted and be expected to achieve sustainable development, has called on member churches in cooperation with ecumenical partners to develop an action plan in support of the Jubilee 2000 movement;

WHEREAS the All Africa Conference of Churches at its October 1997 General Assembly recommended a cancellation of debt, in collaboration with Jubilee 2000, based on democratic governance, respect for human rights, demilitarization and the re-channeling of financial resources to socially beneficial programs;

WHEREAS Jubilee 2000/USA has appealed to the NCCCUSA heads of member communions to participate in this campaign to put an end to the debt crises of impoverished countries and give hope to people living in poverty;

THEREFORE be it resolved that the NCCCUSA:

REAFFIRMS its commitment to fulfilling the justice of God and redressing the great inequities between the rich and poor, by acting to secure the well-being of those in the grip of poverty and subject to injustice around the world;

ENDORSES Jubilee 2000/USA's call for a time of Jubilee and debt cancellation that benefits ordinary people and facilitates their participation in determining the scope, timing and conditions of debt relief as well as the future direction and priorities of their national and local economies;

URGES the United States government to use its leadership in the international community to support and promote debt cancellation for impoverished countries that reduces poverty, and restores economic and environmental justice for people who have borne the major burden of their countries' indebtedness;

CALLS on the U.S. Government to cancel the debt owed to it by Honduras and Nicaragua and to support the immediate cancellation of their international debt in order to alleviate the acute crisis and long-term recovery currently facing these nations;

CALLS on member communions of the NCCCUSA to join millions of people around the world in advocating for economic justice for people living in poverty that cannot meet their basic needs, economic reform that fosters more equitable distribution of power and wealth within and among nations, debt cancellation for impoverished countries that relieves poor people of the burden of debt repayment, and promotes sustainable development;

REQUESTS the Council to engage ecumenical partners in joint advocacy for cancellation of the unsustainable debt of impoverished countries; and

CALLS on member communions to educate their constituencies about the global problem of debt and engage them in the Jubilee 2000 Campaign.

*One amendment from the floor is yet to be integrated into the text.