ME and Ophelia

Thursday, June 17, 2004

- - -

G8 could have wiped out Africa's debts

Last week, the leaders of the world's most powerful nations met at the annual G8 summit and talked about the challenges facing the poorest people on the planet.

Many African countries grappling with the AIDS crisis now spend twice as much in debt payments as they can afford for their citizens' healthcare.

The G8 turned down a proposal put by British Prime Minister Tony Blair to give 100% debt cancellation to some of the world’s poorest countries. Instead, the G8 promised to extend the debt relief scheme until 2006.

Mr Blair's bold proposal would have canceled these debts and allowed these nations to use their resources to help their own people. The Bush administration had its own debt-cancellation plan, but this one focused on Iraq's debts. Iraq owes about three times more in debt than all of the poorest nations in the world combined. In the end, there was no major breakthrough on any of these debt issues.

With so many lives at stake, it is disappointing that the G-8 didn't step up its support for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. The Global Fund is working to treat people living with AIDS and prevent the next big wave of the epidemic in 121 countries. Without new contributions from the G-8, the Global Fund's financial future is in jeopardy. Bush's current budget cuts the U.S. contribution to the fund by nearly two-thirds. The United States should be leading its allies in supporting the fund not cutting its funding.

Bush and the other G-8 leaders should have seized this unique opportunity to end the debt-trap once and for all for the world's poorest people.

[Above extracts courtesy of report "World leaders missed good opportunities on several issues" by David Gartner, policy director of the Global AIDS Alliance published June 17, 2004 - free registration]

BLAIR'S BOLD PROPOSAL AT G8 TO CANCEL DEBTS OF THE POOREST NATIONS - Would have ended the debt-trap for the world's poorest people

June 8 On "G8 Failure" CAFOD has condemned the backtracking at the G8 summit on UK plans that would have given Africa a significant boost in efforts to fight poverty. Henry Northover, CAFOD policy analyst, said:

"...G8 could have wiped out Africa’s debts and given more aid, giving the continent a real prospect of achieving the Millennium Development Goals signed up to world leaders in the year 2000. Apparently the lives of Africans are less important than the strategic interests of the US. This week has witnessed G8 policy-making that ranks the worth of human lives according to the self-interest of the most powerful. It devalues us all. It is unjust that the grandiose declarations of this year’s G8 Summit mask a failing debt policy for Africa and a lavishly financed one for Iraq.

When it comes to standing shoulder to shoulder on Africa - "the scar on the world’s conscience" - Bush has dismissed Blair. The G8’s backtracking on debt is shameful - a gross dereliction of previous promises made by the world’s richest countries to the world’s poorest.

The G8 have ignored their commitment made two years ago at their summit in Canada to finance Africa’s poverty reduction efforts to meet the internationally agreed development goals. Naked self-interest has won out at the expense of the life chances of millions of the world’s poorest..."

Further reading: June african oil politics: June 8 Savannah (Guardian) "Bush backs UK plan for debt relief": George Bush will back an ambitious British-designed plan for more generous debt relief for the world's poorest countries this week as the White House seeks backing from the G8 industrial nations for the financial reconstruction of Iraq.,11268,1233783,00.html Guardian:
- - -

Blair's Africa Commission will report to the G8 next year

Next year the G8 summit will be chaired by the Prime Minister of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The concerns of developing nations have been on the agenda of the G8 summit for the last several years.

Of the annual G8 meetings, Tony Blair has said that Africa was one of his absolutely top priorities. At a Prime Minister's press conference held June 15, 2004, he said:

"We've made very generous additional provision in our aid and we want to carry on doing so -- the Africa Commission that I've established will report to the G8 next year under our chairmanship, so that will be the moment at which we really decide whether we are prepared to give a big impulsion towards a different attitude on Africa and I believe that we will.  I hope we will, anyway, and I will certainly be working very hard for that."

# posted by Ingrid J. Jones @ 6/17/2004
Comments: Post a Comment
0 comments Newer›  ‹Older