In a statement released 16 October, an interfaith e-consultation is deepening calls for releasing countries in the Global South from damaging external debt burdens. The statement, entitled, “Just Economics for Liberation and Life: Interfaith Message on Just Finance, Debt and Reparations,” is the fruit of collaboration between the World Council of Churches (WCC), World Communion of Reformed Churches, Lutheran World Federation, Council for World Mission, and interfaith partners for a New International Financial and Economic Architecture.
The statement explores faith perspectives on debt and faith-rooted visions of alternative financial systems and economies, and includes Bahá'í, Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Islamic, Jewish and Rastafarian voices.
“All our faith traditions have a vision for a just and compassionate world,” reads the statement. “Inspired by such a vision, our different faith traditions reflected on human greed and economic life as well as the role of money and finance in society.”
The statement underscores inequalities that have been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
“This joint message captures faith reflections on just finance and reparations, identifies common ground and calls for urgent action to tackle the debt crisis and to build more just, reparative, and restorative financial and economic structures,” reads the message. “The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the issue of sovereign debt in the spotlight for obvious reasons: mounting a response to the intertwined health and economic crises and ensuring a just and sustainable recovery require tremendous resources.”
The statement observes that debt is about power. “Throughout history, debt has been used by the political and economic elite to control, generate and distribute resources, as well as to discipline communities,” reads the text. “Ultimately, debt is a moral and spiritual issue.”
“Mindful of the deep inequalities and injustices facing our world and the highest values in our religious and spiritual traditions, we call for a reimagining of finance and economics from the perspective of those oppressed by these systems, so that economies can deliver deep freedoms for all our communities and not outrageous profits for the very few,” reads the text. “Our gathering highlights the urgent need for system change if our financial structures are to be just and resource economies that nurture life and deliver prosperity for the most vulnerable.”
The message further calls for adequate funding for the COVID-19 pandemic response and recovery efforts, the rejection of austerity policies, the provision of social protection floors, and the establishment of a comprehensive, fair, transparent, and international debt restructuring mechanism to address sovereign insolvency, among others.
"Interfaith panel addresses debt cancellation and reparations" - WCC news release (6 October 2020)