Caritas wants the external debt of the world’s poorest nations cancelled, without setting harmful conditions. We also call for a fair and transparent debt arbitration process for the future.
No nation, bank, or international financial institution has the right to extract money for the repayment of debt when this will undermine the basic human dignity and rights of the citizens of that country, particularly the poor.
- New Zealand Catholic Bishops Conference, Debt: An intolerable burden, 1998
The debt of the world’s poorest countries is one of the single largest causes of poverty and exclusion. Some progress has been made through measures such as the Multilateral Debt Relief Initiative of 2006. Debt has been relaxed for several countries, including Rwanda (pictured above) where Caritas works.
But the level of debt relaxation has not been enough. Action has fallen short of international agreement that debt should not come in the way of development.
Caritas was a founding member of the Jubilee Aotearoa Debt Action network. This was part of a worldwide Jubilee movement that seeks debt relief for millions of people impoverished by the burden of debt on developing countries.
The Jubilee movement springs from a focus on the year 2000 as a year of Jubilee, Pope John Paul II called on Christians to raise their voices on behalf of the poor of the world. In his encyclical (letter) Tertio Millennio Adveniente, he proposed the year of Jubilee as an appropriate time to begin reducing if not cancelling the international debts of many nations. It echoed the Old Testament call for every fiftieth year to be a year when debts were cancelled and slaves freed.