Rader Urges Jubilee 2000 Action
Petition Drives Call for Debt Reduction in Third World Countries
The Salvation Army is officially endorsing the Jubilee 2000 Campaign, a growing movement calling to reduce the debt burden on Third World countries in celebration of the dawning of the new millennium, states General Paul A. Rader. Salvationists are encouraged to sign petitions to be presented at the Summit of the G8 in Germany in 1999.
Following the Old Testament principle of Jubilee, (Leviticus 25:10) where each 50th year slaves were to be released and land returned to original owners so families could have a fresh start, the Jubilee 2000 movement supports: efforts to reduce or forgive international debt for highly indebted poor countries of the world; appeals to governments for forgiveness of loans, fairer trade agreements, a wider base for international currency exchange, internationally accepted standards for ‘national bankruptcy,’ and a re-examination of conditions that accompany international loans and loan renegotiation known popularly as ‘Structural Adjustment Programs’ and imposed by institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank.
“Many countries experienced great burdens in the 1980s as major economic powers raised interest rates to control their own economies,” said Rader. “As those indebted countries ran into difficulties, they sought help from the IMF or the World Bank. The IMF with the World Bank imposed conditions on those countries to improve their economies in exchange for additional loans. These conditions, known as Structural Adjustment Programs, have often meant reductions in basic services. Higher prices for basic goods, fewer opportunities for education and a lower level of health care spending have made life difficult and oppressive at the grass-roots level.
“We endorse the Jubilee idea because release from bondage and the principles of restoration, rest and regeneration are basic values of the Christian faith,” he said. “We realize that needy countries may borrow again and acknowledge that debt relief does not solve the problems of corruption in many developing countries. However, the people who suffer from debt burdens have little control over how borrowed funds were managed and should not be penalized for corruption.”
The Jubilee 2000 Campaign began in the United Kingdom and has spread around the world. International Headquarters has taken out membership in the Jubilee 2000 Coalition, which has established an important network of supporters who share its objectives.
The Coalition believes the oppression of Third World debt could be ended by the year 2000. Then, the world could begin the new millennium with new hope for the poor and a new start for international relations. “One major hindrance,” said Rader, “is that it is in the short-term interest of some nations to maintain strong influence over the poorer countries of the world. Justice demands that richer countries give up unfair privileges, held at the expense of the poor. If creditors agree to remission of debts, the removal of a restraint on growth could allow poor countries to compete on fairer terms and reduce their dependence on the rich parts of the world. There are people in positions of international power eager to see a fairer world, with debts cancelled and the balance of power between creditors and debtors altered. But the support of thousands of people is needed to pressure decision-makers in creditor governments into carrying through such a fundamental change.”
For further information or to sign a petition, please contact: Current Issues Secretary Lt. Colonel Carolyn Peacock at Western Territorial Headquarters.