Letter to Inter-American Development Bank President - July 14, 2006

Halifax Initiative Coalition
153 Chapel Street
Ottawa, ON  K1N 1H4

President, Board of Governors

Inter American Development Bank,
1300 New York Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20577, USA

Re. Demand for cancellation of IDB debt

Dear Sirs,

One year on from the G8 Summit in Scotland during which the world’s richest countries announced an initiative to cancel 100% of the debts owed by eighteen of the world’s poorest and most heavily indebted countries to help them reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, the undersigned civil society organisations would like to draw your attention to Latin America.

Latin America has received unfair treatment because the cancellation of debts owed to the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank represent only about one third of the debt burden of the countries of the region. In this sense, the promises of 100% have yet again not been met.

In the same way as the African Development Bank has been included in the multilateral debt relief initiative, the Inter American Development Bank (IDB) out of a sense of justice and as a sign of commitment to this part of the world must cancel the totality of the debts owed by the poorest and most severely indebted countries in Latin America. This must be done unconditionally.

The Bank and the international community must together make good on their commitments to help countries, and in particular the poorest people living on the margins of society, reach the Millennium Development Goals. The challenge we have from now until 2015 is enormous. It is crucial that the Bank cancel the debts of the poorest countries where the heavy debt service burden is seriously limiting essential public investments. We believe in life before debt.

It is for these reasons, we are contacting you. As high level officials to the IDB, we urge you during the meeting on 17 July 2006 in Washington DC, to demonstrate strong political will and to take the following action:

  • To cancel immediately and unconditionally the totality of the debts owed by the four HIPCs of the region as well as Haiti, which represents approximately US$5 billion. This is a very significant burden for countries with meagre budgets but does not represent a huge sum for the Bank and international donors.
  • Respect the principle of additionality. By this we mean that aid and concessional credits should not be reduced for beneficiary countries. On the contrary, we do not believe that what has happened with debt relief programmes in the past should again be repeated, i.e. you give with one hand while taking away with the other. This only encourages countries to turn to commercial sources of credit which in the short term increases the debt service burden, preventing poverty reduction programmes and projects from taking place.

Over recent years, Latin American countries, far from advancing have stalled or even gone backwards. Today we are witnessing important political and economic changes in the region which could help to promote a harmonious development in Latin America. For these reasons, this debt cancellation is fundamental for the poorest and most severely indebted countries of the region.

We appreciate that our demands will be given all due consideration and will thus contribute to helping achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Yours Sincerely,

Fraser Reilly-King
Coordinator, Halifax Initiative Coalition

On behalf of Halifax Initiative member groups:

Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace
Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops, Social Affairs Office
Canadian Council for International Cooperation
Canadian Friends of Burma
Canadian Labour Congress
Canadian Lawyers for International Human Rights
CAW-Canada Social Justice Fund
CoDevelopment Canada
Democracy Watch
Falls Brook Centre
Friends of the Earth Canada
Kairos: Canadian Ecumenical Justice Initiatives
MiningWatch Canada
North-South Institute
Oxfam Canada
Rights & Democracy
Social Justice Committee
Steelworkers Humanity Fund
Toronto Environment Alliance
World Interaction Mondiale

With the support of:

  • Latindad (Latin American Network on Debt, Democracy and Human Rights)
  • Eurodad (European Network on Debt and Development), Belgium
  • Campaña Sin Duda, Sin Deuda, Spain
  • Center of Concern, United States
  • Centro de Derechos Económicos y Sociales (CDES), Ecuador
  • Christian Aid, London, United Kingdom
  • Comisión Ciudadana por una auditoría de la deuda pública interna y externa – CCADE, Uruguay
  • erlassjahr.de (Jubilee Germany), Germany
  • Enlace nacional, Nicaragua
  • Foro Social de la Deuda Externa y Desarrollo de Honduras (FOSDEH), Honduras
  • Gender Action, USA
  • Instituto de Estudios Nicaragüenses (IEN), Nicaragua
  • Jubilee Debt Campaign, United Kingdom
  • Jubilee USA network, United States