Jubilee Debt Coalition
Jubilee Debt Coalition (Drop The Debt) is a coalition of national organisations and local groups around the UK, calling for the unpayable debts of the poorest countries to be cancelled. The Coalition is also known as Jubilee Debt Campaign and focuses on developing countries' debt.
The Coalition was formed as a successor organisation to the Jubilee 2000 Coalition. Many campaigners felt that it was necessary to continue working together to monitor the G8's promise to deliver $100Bn of debt relief at Cologne in 1999, and make further progress on the cancellation of debts the poorest countries
The name was chosen in 1995/6, as preparations were gathering pace for the celebration of the millennium. The concept was that justice and poverty alleviation through the cancellation of debts would be a fitting celebration for the millennium. The concept of debt cancellation and celebration is linked to the Old Testament concept of Jubilee, which meant that every 50 years, people sold into slavery, or land sold due to bankruptcy, were redeemed.
The key aim of JDC is debt cancellation and the alleviation of poverty. Educational and campaign materials have been produced on the legitimacy of debt, power and corruption of both lenders and borrowers.
Jubilee Debt Coalition has been most recently in the news in November 2011 because of vulture funds, where a company buys up debts or securities in a distressed environment, and then sues for the full amount 'owing'. JDC has fought a long battle against these vultures campaigning against lawsuits by a company called Donegal International which sued Zambia in 2007 and two other vulture funds against Liberia in 2009. The campaign led to a Debt Relief Act being passed in 2010 which banned vulture funds collecting disproportionate settlements in the UK. Unfortunately the Act did not apply in Crown dependencies such as the Channel Islands. In 2010 a court in Jersey awarded $100 million to a vulture fund called FG run by a New York financier called Peter Grossman. He had reportedly bought the old debt which was owed by the Democratic Republic of Congo to Yugoslavia for $3 million. Tim Jones, of Jubilee Debt Coalition, went to Jersey in November 2011 to ask them to ban vulture funds there too. He told The Guardian: "The DRC is the second poorest country in the world. The country desperately needs to be able to use its rich resources to alleviate poverty, not squander them on paying unjust debts to vulture funds left by the dictator Joseph Mobutu. Jersey has to shut vulture funds down." Jubilee Debt Coalition was also in the news in January 2010, calling for the complete cancellation of Haiti's debts after a huge earthquake hit the country. Drop Haiti's Debt.
The current campaign, 'Lift the lid on bad loans' focuses on money owed for historical debts that are in some way dubious, having been given irresponsibly or to suit the lenders' own ends. The campaign encourages UK citizens to call on the Secretary of State to hold an audit of such loans and to cancel any that are found to be dubious in such a manner.
The 2006 campaign, 'Cut the Strings', focused on the harmful and unfair conditions often attached to debt relief. (See also Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative.) The world’s poorest countries are at times required by the agencies of the G8 (The IMF and World Bank) to cut public spending and privatise health-care and other services to secure debt relief. If the country being considered for debt relief does not stay 'on track', cancellation may be delayed or withheld.
As a result of decisions made at the G8 Summit in Gleneagles, following the Make Poverty History campaign and Live 8 event, JDC called on the British government to return money received from Nigeria as part of a debt cancellation condition.
Jubilee Debt Campaign was an active member of the Make Poverty History Coalition, one of whose key aims was to "Drop the Debt," along with "Make Trade Fair" (Trade Justice Coalition) and "More and Better Aid."
The Coalition's Secretariat is in Islington, London.
- Seager, Ashley (16 May 2008). "West is urged to cancel further $400bn of poor countries' debt". The Guardian. Retrieved 2 March 2014.
- Gready, Paul (2004). Fighting for Human Rights. Routledge – via Questia (subscription required). p. 75. ISBN 0415312914.