|Putting Life Before Debt (CI - CIDSE, 1998, 38 p.)|
This guide was initiated by a working group of CIDSE (International Cooperation for Development and Solidarity), a network which brings together sixteen Catholic development organizations located in Europe, North America, and New Zealand, along with CI (Caritas Internationalis), a network of 146 national relief, development, and social service organizations in 194 states and territories throughout the world.
The identity of CIDSE and CI members is rooted in the social mission of the Catholic Church. We derive our inspiration from scripture, tradition, Catholic social teaching, and the daily lived experience of the poor. At the heart of our Christian faith is compassion for all humanity, which Jesus Christ taught in saying, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me. (Matthew 25:40). Solidarity with the poor on whom the debt burden falls heaviest is our primary motivation in this endeavor. As Church-based organizations, we help to illuminate the conscience of decision-makers. As organizations which work with and for people at the grassroots level, we experience the effects of debt on the daily lives of the poor. It is from our Catholic, Christian, and cultural background that we offer this position paper and advocacy guide.
This paper follows our previous policy statements on debt, notably the joint CIDSE/CI statement at the UN World Summit for Social Development held in Copenhagen in March 1995 and the CIDSE position paper, Third World Debt, published in 1988.
While rooted in the Catholic church, our identity is also a function of our collaboration with many individuals and organizations, both religious and secular, who join the struggle against poverty and injustice. The document owes a great deal to the contribution of our partner agencies in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, to academics and activists around the world, and in particular to several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with long and outstanding knowledge and experience on the debt issue, the Center of Concern, the European Network on Debt and Development, and Oxfam International. It is intended to be used as a tool by people who want to understand the basics of international debt for the purpose of organizing campaigns and advocating change.
The first section of the position paper looks at debt in the context of Jubilee: What it is, a Catholic perspective, why debt is important to us now, how the debt crisis came about, and its impact in debtor countries. The second section looks at early attempts to reduce the debt and a current debt relief initiative. The third section outlines policies for debt relief supported by CIDSE and CI.