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PRESS RELEASE NO. 35
LWF Tenth Assembly:
External Debts to Developing Countries Should Be Cancelled
International Mechanism toward Justice-Oriented Debt Management
WINNIPEG, Canada, 31 July
2003 – The
Lutheran World Federation (LWF) has asked International Financial
Institutions to acknowledge that part of the debt given to
developing countries is illegitimate and odious. "The debt is
the responsibility of the creditors and has to be cancelled,"
the LWF Tenth Assembly said in a public statement here July 30.
The Assembly noted that
the debt burden had increased and was a major barrier against
poverty eradication and fulfillment of basic human rights for all.
In the statement, the
highest decision-making body of the LWF noted that the present
financial external debt could only be understood if seen in
relationship to the historic exploitation of colonialism.
"External debt has in fact become a modern tool for
domination," the Assembly stated.
has shown that substantial parts of the external debts of countries
in Asia, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean are illegitimate.
Loans were freely offered to illegitimate and undemocratic
governments which then contracted these loans. In many cases, the
contracted debt was misused or diverted, both by illegitimate and
legitimate governments. Only a minor part has been actually used for
social development," the Assembly noted.
The Assembly called on LWF
member churches to challenge commercial banks, which are or have
been involved in illegitimate lending to take their responsibility
and cancel their claims.
The Tenth Assembly
underlined the need to develop mechanism at an international level
that would help establish a justice-oriented debt management.
"This mechanism should ensure full and active participation of
indebted countries, securing that the lenders take their
responsibility," it noted.
The Assembly urged the LWF
to advocate for trade and development policies that uphold the
objective of enhancing human well-being to which the international
human rights instruments give legal expression.
This requires the LWF to
initiate an international campaign involving member churches,
communities and individuals, and promote access to basic goods and
services. "In particular the LWF was urged to promote trade and
development policies, which secure access for all to safe water,
adequate nutrition, shelter, healthcare including medication and
primary education, noted the statement.
Further, the LWF churches
were encouraged "to hold international financial institutions,
governments and corporations accountable to respect these
fundamental human rights."
The Assembly urged the
global communion of Lutheran churches to continue campaigning with
individual governments to ensure access to treatment, medicines and
public health programs for people living with HIV/AIDS and other
diseases, specifically as they concern Trade Related Intellectual
Property Rights (TRIPS), trade rules and the responsibility of
governments to ensure that these health requirements are provided.
Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is taking place
21-31 July 2003 in Winnipeg, Canada, under the theme "For the
Healing of the World." It is being hosted by the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in Canada (ELCIC).
There are around 820 men, women and youth participants in the Tenth
Assembly including 380 delegates from the
133 churches with full membership and three associate members. The Assembly is the highest
decision-making body of the LWF, and meets normally every six years.
Between Assemblies, the LWF is governed by its Council that meets
annually, and by its Executive Committee.
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