Jubilee 2000 was an international coalition movement in over 40 countries that called for cancellation of third world debt by the year 2000. This movement coincided with the Great Jubilee, the celebration of the year 2000 in the Catholic Church. From early 2001, Jubilee 2000 split into an array of organisations around the world.
The concept derives from the biblical idea of the year of Jubilee, the 50th year. In the Jubilee Year as quoted in Leviticus, those enslaved because of debts are freed, lands lost because of debt are returned, and community torn by inequality is restored. It aimed to wipe out $90bn of debt owed by the world's poorest nations, reducing the total to about $37bn.
The idea was first articulated by Martin Dent, a retired lecturer in politics at the University of Keele, who linked the biblical Jubilee to a modern debt relief programme and founded the Jubilee 2000 campaign in the early 1990s.
The activities were initially directed through church channels, and quickly gained wide currency, spreading messages about the hardship caused by debts among diverse sectors of the public. Youth groups in particular became heavily involved, reversing a perception, born of the 1980s, that young people were uninterested in political issues. Campaigns were launched via a secretariat in the UK, franchising the "trade mark" to any who directed campaign in the spirit of Jubilee 2000. Among the supporters of the movement were Bono of rock band U2, Quincy Jones, Willie Colón, Muhammad Ali, Bob Geldof, Youssou N'dour, Thom Yorke, N.T. Wright, Walter Sobcheck and others.
Jubilee 2000 staged demonstrations at the 1998 G-8 meeting in Birmingham, England. The G-8 refers to the eight countries (US, UK, Canada, Japan, Germany, France, Italy, and Russia) that represent a majority of the world's economy. The group holds regular summits to discuss various global issues. At the Birmingham meeting, which, among other things, focused on achieving sustainable economic growth in the context of environmental protection and good governance, between 50,000 and 70,000 demonstrators participated in a peaceful protest in an effort to put debt relief on the agenda of Western governments. The protestors made headlines around the world for their demonstrations and activities aimed at increasing awareness, such as forming a human chain around Birmingham City Centre, passing out petitions, and holding informative workshops.
The protests caught the attention of Prime Minister Tony Blair, who met with the directors of Jubilee 2000 to discuss the issue of heavy debt in poor countries. Subsequently, the Prime Minister publicly expressed his personal support for, and dedication to, debt forgiveness. Other notable successes that resulted, at least in part, from Jubilee 2000 pressure, included a promise from the United States during the G-7 (G-8 financial ministers, excluding Russia) meeting in Cologne, Germany in 1999 to cancel 100% of the debt that qualifying countries owed the U.S. Jubilee also lobbied the U.S. Congress to make good on this promise. Congress responded to the growing pressure to address debt relief issues in 2000 by committing $769 million to bilateral and multilateral debt relief.
Post 2000 
From early 2001, Jubilee 2000 split into an array of organisations around the world; Jubilee South (encompassing many former Jubilee campaigns in Africa, Asia and Latin America); Jubilee Debt Campaign, Jubilee Scotland and Jubilee Research (hosted by nef new economics foundation) in the UK; Jubilee USA Network; Jubilé 2000/CAD Mali in Mali; and many other national organisations. These co-ordinate their actions through a loose global confederation.
Jubilee USA, located in Washington DC, is the USA's campaigning successor to Jubilee 2000. Erlassjahr.de is the German branch. There are very many other organisations around the world which also carry forward the debt campaign.
Former Jubilee 2000 UK staff founded the short-lived Drop The Debt to work in the run-up to the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, maintaining Jubilee 2000's combination of lobbying, celebrity work and mass activism. Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation, located in London, took over from Jubilee 2000 in 2001 and now provides in-depth analysis and data on third world debt. Jubilee Debt Campaign is the UK's campaigning successor to Jubilee 2000, comprising much of the UK's original Jubilee 2000 membership, while Jubilee Scotland campaigns north of the border. The campaign calls for cancellation of debts owed by the world's poorest countries.
Debt was one of the targets of 2005's Make Poverty History Campaign.
- "Genesis of the Campaign". Yale School of Management: Faith & Globalization Case Studies. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
- E. Carrasco, C.McClellan, & J. Ro (2007), "Foreign Debt: Forgiveness and Repudiation" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development E-Book