Thursday, September 14, 2006

Drop it Like It's Hot, Pt. 2

At a conference this week in Monrovia...

About 40 civil society organizations and inter-governmental agencies from 15 countries have called for the immediate and unconditional cancellation of all Liberia's multilateral and bilateral debts so as to give the country "a fresh start" after 15 years of bloody civil crisis.


Incidentally, the conference was held at the Corina Hotel, which is a convenient place to hold a conference for 50-75 people, and is one of the few Liberian-owned hotels in town. But speaking from experience, Corina is best avoided as a lodging place.


Anonymous Sarah Rimmington said...

Immediate, unconditional debt cancellation for Liberia is something Jubilee USA Network works on from time to time in solidarity with Liberian activists.

Liberia is admittedly not a current focus but we have done press and lobbying work with other orgs (including the Institute for Policy Studies Foreign Policy in Focus) bringing attention to the needs of Liberia.

For Americans, a good way to keep informed and to work on this, go to and "Join our lists" especially the once monthly list and the more frequent policy list. And here is a link to a March press release we did about Liberia's debt in time for President's visit to the US and appearance before Congress...


2:03 PM  
Anonymous Sarah Rimmington said...

Oh, what the hell. I'll paste in the press release here to make it easy for you.

* Foreign Policy in Focus * Jubilee USA Network *

March 15, 2006

Emira Woods,, 202-234-9382 x232
Debayani Kar,, 202-783-0215

Experts Urge US Government to Cancel Liberia’s Odious Debt Ahead of Wednesday’s Congressional Appearance by New President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

WASHINGTON - Africa’s first woman president, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, will address a special joint session of Congress on Wednesday. President Johnson-Sirleaf’s appearance is part of efforts underway in Congress to increase US assistance to the country by around $100 million. Congress and the Bush administration must include the need to cancel Liberia’s odious and unjust debt on their agenda this week.

Given the desperate needs of Liberians, especially in the areas of education and health services, the US government should take immediate action to cancel Liberia's odious debt, 30% of which is to the United States. During the decade-long war, debt servicing was all but abandoned, resulting in ballooning arrears. The country's debt now stands at $3.5 billion. At this rate, over 40% of all export earnings would be required to service the debt, in a country where the average annual income is $83. In recognition of the severity of Liberia's debt crisis, world leaders did include Liberia in their debt cancellation initiative announced last year. But to date, Liberia has received neither nominal debt relief nor full debt cancellation from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) or World Bank.

As noted by John Snow, US Treasury Secretary, in reference to Iraq, the people "shouldn't be saddled with those debts incurred through the regime of the dictator who is now gone." But, where Saddam Hussein left palaces, electric grids, and oil refineries, Liberians stand to inherit nothing but debt – and ruin.

Emira Woods, Co-Director, Foreign in Policy Focus:
"The US Congress and the Bush Administration should help give Liberia a chance at a fresh start by agreeing to cancel the country’s external debts, accumulated under the past dictatorships. Currently, those debts, the equivalent of some 680 percent of the country’s GDP, undermine the capacity of the new government to tackle the problems of rising HIV/AIDS infection rates and a lack of functioning schools, electricity, and other infrastructure."

Debayani Kar, Communications and Advocacy Coordinator, Jubilee USA Network:
"We know that the majority of Liberia's debt was incurred under past dictators Samuel Doe and Charles Taylor. The odious nature of this debt provides a compelling argument for 100% cancellation, especially in the face of humanitarian crises in the country. We urge the international financial institutions and the US government to take swift action to implement last year's G-8 debt agreement and cancel Liberia's debt."

Foreign Policy In Focus (FPIF) is a think tank for research, analysis, and action that brings together scholars, advocates, and activists who strive to make the United States a more responsible global partner.

Jubilee USA Network is the US arm of the international movement working for debt cancellation for impoverished nations. Jubilee USA is a network of over 75 religious denominations and faith-based groups, labor groups, environmental organizations, and community and advocacy groups working for freedom from debt and economic justice for countries in Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

2:06 PM  

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