Bishops call on G8 to deliver on promises to poor countries

04 Jun 2007


4th June 2007

Bishops call on G8 to deliver on promises to poor countries

· Bishop Field hands ICJSA letter to German Embassy in Dublin – see below
· Debt relief should be in addition to aid, not in place of aid
· By 2015, 0.7% of GNP in G8 countries should be spent on aid

The Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA) today called on German Chancellor Angela Merkel, in her capacity as chair of the G8 which is meeting in Germany, to fulfil previously made promises in Gleneagles, Scotland, on aid and debt cancellation for poor countries. In Gleneagles the G8 leaders promised to cancel poor countries’ debt and increase aid by $50 billion by 2010, including a doubling of aid to Africa.

On Friday last, the Chairman of the ICJSA, Bishop Raymond Field, along with other members of the Commission, handed a letter [see below] to the German Embassy in Dublin which calls on Chancellor Merkel to hold G8 leaders to the July 2005 pledges made in Gleneagles.

Bishop Field said: “Our protest is concerned with preserving life. As Germany is hosting the annual summit of G8 leaders this week on 6 – 8 June, it affords us an opportunity to highlight how these powerful countries, which have made key promises in the past, have yet to fulfill them. Let’s look at the facts: everyday 5,000 children die from drinking dirty water. This is intolerable in a world of plenty. This week the G8 leaders have a golden opportunity to set down concrete plans to deliver on the promises made in Gleneagles. In doing so such plans would have the potential to lift millions out of poverty.

“The prophetic words of Pope John Paul II explains the bind that we – the developed world – are currently in: ‘The failure to keep commitments in the sphere of aid to developing nations is a serious moral question and further highlights the injustice of the imbalances in the world.”

Bishop Field said: “The Irish Bishops, through the Commission for Justice and Social Affairs, is today urging the G8 countries to:
· set out a clear timetable for doubling aid by 2010 and for each G8 country to commit to spending 0.7% of GNP on aid by 2015;
· ensure that aid is delivered in a predictable, responsible and transparent manner;
· ensure that aid is not conditional on the buying of goods and services from donors;
· ensure parliaments and citizens in poor countries have a say in how aid is spent;
· take steps to fight corruption, including: preventing tax havens being used to shelter the proceeds of corruption; returning stolen assets to legitimate authorities in poor countries; and, prosecuting companies from G8 countries that engage in corrupt practices in developing countries.”

Bishop Field concluded: “It is high time we stopped backsliding on commitments and treated the overwhelming majority of the people of the world as fellow human beings in a shared estate that respects our common humanity. Fairer use and allocation of global resources for the common good must be the dominant priority on the G8’s agenda.”

Notes for Editors

– Please see below a copy of the ICJSA letter to Chancellor Merkel.

– Log on to for more information on the Irish Commission for Justice and Social Affairs (ICJSA).

Debt: while the promised debt relief is largely being delivered upon, G8 leaders must go further. There is a need to:
· make debt relief additional to aid. In 2005, $14 billion in debt cancellation for Iraq and Nigeria was counted as aid, even though it did not deliver any new resources to poor countries;
· support independent audits of all debts which arise from loans to unaccountable leaders, for unviable projects or with unfair conditions attached. Cancel debts which are found to be unfair;
· prevent predatory litigation by private or commercial creditors against poor countries;
· agree that the only conditions for debt relief should relate to guaranteeing accountable and transparent use of funds;
· develop new mechanisms for preventing and resolving debt crises based on fairness, transparency and the shared responsibility of lender and creditor.

Aid: There are substantial shortfalls in aid. G8 leaders promised to increase aid by $50 billion per year, doubling the share of aid that goes to Africa. However, in 2006, global aid fell by 5% to $103 billion and aid to Africa remained static. Meanwhile, annual global military spending reached $824 billion last year.

– The 33rd G8 Summit, hosted this week by Germany in Heiligendamm, will focus on ‘Growth and Responsibility’. The G8 countries consist of: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the USA.

– The ICJSA is a Commission of the Irish Bishops’ Conference. It was launched by the Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland, Archbishop Seán Brady, on 13 June 2005. The ICJSA is chaired by Dr Raymond Field, Auxiliary Bishop of Dublin. The Commission is part of the Department of Social and International Affairs of the Irish Bishops’ Conference which is chaired by Dr Diarmuid Martin, Archbishop of Dublin. The role of the ICJSA is to support the Bishops’ Conference in promoting the social teaching of the Church and to advise on issues of social concern both nationally and internationally.

Further information:

Martin Long Director of Communications (086 172 7678)