Southern organisations demand end to adjustment

15 December 1999

Organizations and activists in more than 20 Southern countries have launched a campaign against the destructive lending policies of the World Bank. They are calling for a boycott of the purchase of World Bank bonds by individuals and public institutions, and for member governments to stop providing further funding until all destructive World Bank lending has ended and it has cancelled all debts owed to it by Third World countries. In a letter to Bank president James Wolfensohn, they highlighted a litany of problems caused by the Bank’s adjustment programmes and urged that

“for sound and healthy economies, societies, and citizenry, economic policy in our countries must be formed in the interest of the poor and working people who compose the majority of the population.”

The letter states that 65% of World Bank lending today is for sectoral and structural adjustment loans, and that these loans which carry conditions which:

  • promote dependency, and increase misery and poverty;
  • vastly increase the socio-economic burden on women;
  • lead to the promotion of sweatshops, and the denial of workers’ rights to organize;
  • destroy peasant-led agricultural production and national food security;
  • accelerate destruction of the natural environment;
  • degrade cultural integrity, by changing models of consumption;
  • add to countries’ external debt burden;
  • further concentrate wealth and power.

Southern advocates are also stepping up their pressure on the IMF to withdraw from their countries. In a meeting in South Korea conference participants called for:

  • the IMF to immediately cease imposing structural adjustment-style conditions;
  • the proposal for the new Poverty Reduction and Growth Facility be immediately withdrawn as irrelevant;
  • the assets of the ESAF/PRGF to be used to cancel the debts the countries defined by the World Bank as heavily indebted poor countries;
  • moves to amend the IMF‘s Articles of Agreement to require member countries to liberalize their capital accounts be explicitly abandoned;
  • a global commission with over half its members representing civil society organizations (with others from governments and the United Nations) to be immediately convened to determine whether the IMF shall continue to exist and, if so, what role it should play.