world council of churches

justice, peace, creation
Debt, Cancellation and Beyond

Since the 1970s, the global debt crisis has been a priority for the World Council of Churches. On several occasions the WCC has spoken in solidarity with the victims of indebtedness.

Through the sabbath-jubilee tradition, the Hebrew and Christian scriptures offer a framework for periodically overcoming structural injustice and poverty and for restoring right relationships. This tradition is as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.

Debt bondage by the poorest countries to Western governments and creditors is akin to a modern form of slavery. The social, political and ecological costs of the debt crisis can no longer be tolerated and must be redressed.

In December 1998 delegates to the Harare Assembly challenged the Council to strengthen its work on the debt issue and to develop an ecumenical response to the challenges of globalization.

The assembly adopted a policy statement for reflection by the ecumenical community and called WCC member churches to action. Fearing that initiatives to cancel the debt of the world's most indebted countries will not sufficiently curb the cycle of indebtedness, the statement attempts to place the debt issue in the wider framework of economic justice and globalization.

Based on the Harare mandate, the WCC is

  • cooperating with existing Jubilee 2000 coalitions;

  • supporting the development of a South-South network;

  • encouraging increased cooperation between coalitions in the South and coalitions in the North, thereby hoping to establish a global jubilee movement;

  • cooperating with the World Alliance of Reformed Churches and the Lutheran World Federation on their initiatives;

  • cooperating with the All Africa Council of Churches to support the debt related work of member churches, ecumenical councils and church-related NGOs in Africa.
If you or your organization are involved in debt-related work, send your comments and/or information to Lennart Renöfält, coordinator for WCC work on globalization and debt.

Squatter village in Kowlon, Kwun Tong, Hong Kong.
(© Peter Williams/WCC)

Money spent to finance debt is money
not spent on housing, health and education.

School class held in the shadow of a tree in Narus,
a small village in Eastern Equatoria, Sudan.
(© Peter Williams/WCC)

Click to these important documents:

There are alternatives to globalization - a dossier prepared by the WCC Justice, Peace & Creation Team to help ecumenical partners prepare for the UN General Assembly's Special Session on Social Development, Geneva, June 2000.
    Statement available in English, français and Spanish

Yaoundé Declaration and Action Plan
Adopted at a sub-regional seminar on "Debt in Central Africa" (Cameroon, January 2000)
    Statement available in English and en français

Jubilee South-South Summit Declaration
Towards a Debt-Free Millennium (Johannesburg, November 1999)
    Statement available in English

WCC Statement on Debt Crisis
G8 proposals are insufficient (Geneva, 9 June 1999)
    Statement available in English, en français, auf Deutsch, and en español.
    Click here to read the press release concerning this statement.

Lusaka Declaration and Areas of Action
Towards an "Africa Consensus" on Sustainable Development and Sustainable Solutions to the Debt Crisis (Zambia May 1999)
    Statement available in English

Gauteng Declaration
Southern African Jubilee Debt Summit with participation from ten countries in the region (South Africa, March 1999)
    Statement available in English, en français and en español.

Tegucigalpa Declaration
Declaration from a meeting with Latin American and Caribbean Jubilee 2000 coalitions (Honduras, January 1999).
    Statement available in English, en français and en español.

WCC Harare Statement on Debt
A jubilee call to end the stranglehold of debt on impoverished peoples (Zimbabwe, December 1998)
    Statement available in English, en français, auf Deutsch, and en español.

Rome Declaration
Adopted at the first Jubilee 2000 international conference (Italy, November 1998)
    Statement available in English and en español.

Accra Declaration
Declaration from a meeting with African Jubilee 2000 coalitions and NGO representatives (Ghana, April 1998)
    Statement available in English and en français.

Click here for a list of links and addresses for a variety of Jubilee 2000 campaigns and other sources of information.

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