7. How can we be sure that this will help the poorest people and not be taken by corrupt leaders?
Jubilee 2000 is quite clear that any new resources released by cancelling debt need to benefit ordinary people, not elites. The best ways to attack corruption are to reduce poverty and to increase openness and transparency.
Jubilee 2000 wants to see decisions about spending priorities in developing countries made in partnership with people, represented by civil society and elected representatives of people's groups. These groups can work to monitor governments and officials and expose corruption, and ensure that funds diverted from debt repayment are spent effectively on improving health care and education. This process would open up third world governments and help foster democracy and respect for human rights.
The World Bank and IMF have recently introduced a Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP) to try and involve civil society in the process of debt cancellation. The link between debt cancellation and poverty reduction is paramount, but Jubilee 2000 also warn of the danger of PRSPs being used as yet another reason to delay debt relief. The process of effective consultation between governments, NGOs, unions, local community groups etc., can take place in tandem with the incremental delivery of debt relief which the PRSP relies upon for funding.
The IMF and the World Bank need to play their part in reducing corruption. These institutions and the West has a long history of funding for dictators like Mobutu, who received IMF loans long after clear evidence that he was siphoning money into Swiss Bank accounts. They too must open up their own processes to scrutiny and transparency.
It is not beyond the combined capability of the international community to find effective ways to ensure that funds are spent on the urgent needs of ordinary people, without imposing unnecessary conditions on countries from outside. What is lacking is the political will to cancel unpayable debts in the first place - and corruption must not be used as an excuse to do nothing.
Cancelling debt will itself be a blow against corruption, as the comfortable relationship between lending elites and borrowing elites is broken down. And of course, poverty breeds corruption. By tackling debt, one of the principle causes of poverty will be removed.
Jubilee 2000 are proposing a new process for international lending and borrowing to ensure that there is more responsibility and discipline on the part creditors and debtors. International arbitration, under the auspices of a body such as the United Nations would prevent both reckless borrowing and reckless lending.
8. How do global economic fluctuations affect the campaign?
Recent financial crises and the third world debt crisis share one thing in common - bad lending decisions. However, the reactions of the international community to the two are quite different. While poor African countries are allowed to dwindle under the burden of debt, richer southeast Asian economies are quickly bailed out. The reasons are twofold. First, southeast Asian economies are much bigger markets for western exports. Second, the amounts of money they owe are far greater. If southeast Asian economies default on their payments, it threatens the stability of western financial markets. Nobody bothers to find any quick solution to poor country debt because no export markets are at stake and no financial stability is at stake - only the lives of the poorest.
In fact, cancelling unpayable debts may be an excellent way of giving a boost to the world economy and so could help avoid global slumps. It would be both a just and a sound way to manage global macro-economic affairs. The current crisis has also encouraged much talk about restructuring the international financial architecture. Especially with centre-left governments in power in key countries, Jubilee 2000 can lobby to ensure that this restructuring takes into account the special needs of the poorest, by cancelling the debts and taking measures to ensure new debts do not build up.
9. What have been the highlights of the campaign so far?
10. What is the campaign planning next?
Time is running out. The Millennium presents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for the international players to pull together and really make a historical difference. The people who can do this are the G7 leaders - heads of state in the UK, US, Japan, Germany, France, Canada and Italy.
There is no greater power on earth than an idea
whose time has come