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What we want
The short answer, in 9 words:
TRADE JUSTICE. DROP THE DEBT. MORE AND BETTER
The longer answer:
World poverty is sustained not by chance or nature,
but by a combination of factors: injustice in global trade; the
huge burden of debt; insufficient and ineffective aid. Each of these
is exacerbated by inappropriate economic policies imposed by rich
But it doesn’t have to be this way. These factors
are determined by human decisions.
MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY urges the government and international
decision makers to rise to the challenge of 2005. We are calling
for urgent and meaningful policy change on three critical and inextricably
linked areas: trade, debt
1. Trade justice
- Fight for rules that ensure governments, particularly
in poor countries, can choose the best solutions to end poverty
and protect the environment. These will not always be free trade
- End export subsidies that damage the livelihoods
of poor rural communities around the world.
- Make laws that stop big business profiting
at the expense of people and the environment.
The rules of international trade are stacked in favour
of the most powerful countries and their businesses. On the one
hand these rules allow rich countries to pay their farmers and companies
subsidies to export food – destroying the livelihoods of poor
farmers. On the other, poverty eradication, human rights and environmental
protection come a poor second to the goal of ‘eliminating
We need trade justice not free trade. This means
the EU single-handedly putting an end to its damaging agricultural
export subsidies now; it means ensuring poor countries can feed
their people by protecting their own farmers and staple crops; it
means ensuring governments can effectively regulate water companies
by keeping water out of world trade rules; and it means ensuring
trade rules do not undermine core labour standards.
We need to stop the World Bank and International
Monetary Fund (IMF) forcing poor countries to open their markets
to trade with rich countries, which has proved so disastrous over
the past 20 years; the EU must drop its demand that former European
colonies open their markets and give more rights to big companies;
we need to regulate companies – making them accountable for
their social and environmental impact both here and abroad; and
we must ensure that countries are able to regulate foreign investment
in a way that best suits their own needs.
2. Drop the debt
The unpayable debts of the world’s poorest
countries should be cancelled in full, by fair and transparent means.
Despite grand statements from world leaders, the
debt crisis is far from over. Rich countries have not delivered
on the promise they made more than six years ago to cancel unpayable
poor country debts. As a result, many countries still have to spend
more on debt repayments than on meeting the needs of their people.
Rich countries and the institutions they control
must act now to cancel all the unpayable debts of the poorest countries.
They should not do this by depriving poor countries of new aid,
but by digging into their pockets and providing new money.
The task of calculating how much debt should be cancelled
must no longer be left to creditors concerned mainly with minimising
their own costs. Instead, we need a fair and transparent international
process to make sure that human needs take priority over debt repayments.
International institutions like the IMF and World
Bank must stop asking poor countries to jump through hoops in order
to qualify for debt relief. Poor countries should no longer have
to privatise basic services or liberalise economies as a condition
for getting the debt relief they so desperately need.
And to avoid another debt crisis hard on the heels
of the first, poor countries need to be given more grants, rather
than seeing their debt burden piled even higher with yet more loans.
3. More and better aid
- Donors must now deliver at least $50 billion
more in aid and set a binding timetable for spending 0.7% of national
income on aid.
- Aid must also be made to work more effectively
for poor people.
Poverty will not be eradicated without an immediate
and major increase in international aid. Rich countries have promised
to provide the extra money needed to meet internationally agreed
poverty reduction targets. This amounts to at least $50 billion
per year, according to official estimates, and must be delivered
Rich countries have also promised to provide 0.7%
of their national income in aid and they must now make good on their
commitment by setting a binding timetable to reach this target.
However, without far-reaching changes in how aid
is delivered, it won’t achieve maximum benefits. Two key areas
of reform are needed.
First, aid needs to focus better on poor people’s
needs. This means more aid being spent on areas such as basic healthcare
and education. Aid should no longer be tied to goods and services
from the donor, so ensuring that more money is spent in the poorest
countries. And the World Bank and the IMF must become fully democratic
in order for poor people’s concerns to be heard.
Second, aid should support poor countries and communities’
own plans and paths out of poverty. Aid should therefore no longer
be conditional on recipients promising economic change like privatising
or deregulating their services, cutting health and education spending,
or opening up their markets: these are unfair practices that have
never been proven to reduce poverty. And aid needs to be made predictable,
so that poor countries can plan effectively and take control of
their own budgets in the fight against poverty.