Global poverty campaigners have called on the public to remember the original meaning of Jubilee during this weekend’s diamond jubilee celebrations, as they launch a new paper chain petition to the Prime Minister calling for a ‘Jubilee for Justice’.
Jubilee Debt Campaign’s call reflects the origins of the term ‘jubilee’, acknowledged in a speech by the Queen in February. A Jubilee Year was a time when debts in society were cancelled and the damaging impact of those debts undone by releasing slaves, redistributing land and leaving land to rest.
Campaigners first applied the idea of Jubilee to the Third World Debt Crisis from the 1980s onwards, when dozens of impoverished countries were trapped in debts that held back development for at least 20 years.
The Jubilee 2000 movement saw millions of people around the world taking action, and £80 billion of debt being cancelled for developing countries in the 2000s, leading to spending on schools, healthcare and social development in impoverished countries.
Today, as a new cycle of debt and austerity causes suffering in Europe, Jubilee Debt Campaign has renewed its call for a Jubilee for countries afflicted by debt.
The group’s State of Debt report, released last week, shows the detrimental impact of debt and austerity in Europe and across the world. It says that a Jubilee for Justice is urgently needed, involving not just cancelling unjust debts but also ensuring countries are able to escape the trap of debt permanently – a major failing of government responses to the Jubilee 2000 and Make Poverty History campaigns.
Nick Dearden of Jubilee Debt Campaign said: “On jubilee weekend, it’s vital that we remember the original meaning of Jubilee - a call for economic and social justice.
“Around the world debt is causing immense suffering again. A self-serving financial system has brought the global economy to its knees and we are now seeing the poorest people in our own society and around the world paying the price for this excess.
“But the debt crisis is not new. The cycle of debt and austerity has caused devastation to people and planet for 30 years. Lenders are never held to account for unjust debts. This caused two lost decades of development in the ’80s and ’90s, from which many dozens of countries have still not recovered. Yet the same failed policies are being pursued by global bodies like the International Monetary Fund today.
“We need a radical change in economic thinking and policy-making to build a society based on justice, mutual support and community. Finance must be put back in its place. The jubilee we need is not about charity towards the impoverished but a call for justice.“
The campaign has today launched a paper chain petition to the Prime Minister which its members will be getting signed at Jubilee events and Sunday services up and down the country.
The ‘Jubilee for Justice’ petition incorporates far-reaching policies including:
• Cancelling the unjust debts of the most indebted nations
• Promoting just and progressive taxation rather than excessive borrowing
• Stopping harmful lending which forces countries into debt
The campaign has also launched an open letter for faith leaders to sign calling for a renewed jubilee.