Nov 23rd, 2012 5:21 PM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
We may have be working away trying to convince European leaders to protect lifesaving EU aid in their budget negotiations, but we couldn’t possibly let the news go unmarked that Jersey has voted to bring in the vulture funds law that ONE members having been pushing them to.
This is a great success for our movement. Think back to where we were only a few short months ago – vulture fund FG Hemisphere was using Jersey’s courts to try and collect $100m from the Democratic Republic of Congo for an old, much smaller debt.
Almost 50,000 ONE members signed a petition asking for Jersey to bring in in legislation to stop this ever happening again. After pressure from ONE, our friends at the Jubilee Debt Campaign, and finally a public consultation, Jersey’s Chief Minister, Ian Gorst, committed to bringing the law in. Then, after another push and against the odds, the DRC’s appeal to the UK Privy Council was successful, and the vulture fund defeated.
Now, the law is on its way.
Wow! This campaign shows just how important it is to take a stand. Had the 50,000 of you not signed the petition, had we not gone to Jersey to hand in this petition to the Chief Minister’s office, had we not all kept on pushing… then this may well not be the result we see today.
Thank you to everyone who supported this campaign. Jersey was by no means the last target for vulture funds, so our work continues, but this is a great step in the right direction.
Jul 18th, 2012 3:34 PM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
We have some great news to share in the fight against so called vulture funds, which make money by buying up old debt against developing countries, and using the courts around the world to sue them for the full amount in order to reap massive profits.
In a surprise decision today the UK Privy Council, which decides cases of Jersey law, has ruled against vulture fund FG Hemisphere in a case brought against Democratic Republic of Congo.
FG Hemisphere was using the courts in Jersey to try and collect $100m from the Democratic Republic of Congo. The debt originated in the 1980s when the Yugoslavian government lent money to dictator General Mobutu to win contracts for their businesses.
Today’s judgement marks the final appeal in a case for payment on a debt bought by FG Hemisphere for just $3 million.
ONE has been campaigning for months alongside our friends at the Jubilee Debt Campaign to see an end to vulture funds using Jersey’s courts to prey on poor countries for old debt.
Nearly 50,000 ONE members signed our petition to Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst and thanks to our pressure, he announced that Jersey would introduce a law, similar to the one in the UK that will stop vulture funds preying from Jersey’s courts.
But this was too late for the current case. So today’s court decision is great news.
After having much of their debt cancelled by the IMF and World Bank just last year, the impact of losing this case would have been devastating for the on the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the people living in extreme poverty.
But of course the defeat of one vulture does not mean a defeat for all. So rest assured that ONE will continue to campaign on this issue. We’ll also be closely monitoring the situation in Jersey to ensure that the promised law comes into force soon.
Thank you to all ONE members who took action on this issue. Your voice was so vital in standing up for what was right.
Jun 25th, 2012 12:35 PM UTC
By Tamira Gunzburg
Today marks the launch of ONE’s 2012 DATA Report. This year, the report monitors the EU’s commitments to development and to Africa.
EU Commissioner for Development Andris Piebalgs welcomed the DATA report in a statement today. On the EU chapter, which looks in detail at the quantity and quality of EU institutions aid, Commissioner Piebalgs said:
“I was particularly pleased to see that the EU institutions rank in first position on Transparency and among leaders in terms of aid efficiency and evaluation. The report also recognizes a strong push made by EU institutions to demonstrate the value of development work and clearly communicate not only on inputs, but also results. In times of constraint resources, this is a strong encouragement to pursue our objective to use aid in the most efficient way in order to achieve highest impact…”
The DATA report tracks the progress of the EU institutions and the 27 EU Member States towards their promised goals of collectively providing 0.7% of their Gross National Income towards development assistance by 2015. Commissioner Piebalgs welcomed our focus on Europe, saying:
“On Official Development Assistance, while the report rightly underlines the need to increase aid budgets to meet the 0.7% target, I’m happy to see that it reminds at the same time that the EU, together with Member States, is the largest donor in the world with €53 billion of development aid in 2011, which represents more than 54% of global aid.”
The EU and its Member States also promised to direct half of all aid increases to Africa. The DATA report finds that while progress towards the 0.7% goal is mixed, all are lagging on their Africa promises. Commissioner Piebalgs takes note of this in his statement, and offers that:
“In the “Agenda for Change”*, I made it clear that I want to focus aid even more on the poorest of the planet, in particular those who live in the Least Developed Countries (LDCs). As majority of the LDCs are in Africa, this push will obviously result in a greater proportion of aid going to Africa.”
The DATA report shows that we have a crucial window of opportunity right now to keep on track towards those targets, and Commissioner Piebalgs agrees:
“This year will witness key decisions that will set the stage for progress in development policy, notably the negotiations on the Multi-Annual Financial Framework. I am pleased to see the report’s conclusions according to which the European Commission “plays a key role in the global fight against extreme poverty” and that EU budget helps Member States to achieve their individual aid commitments.”
In closing, Piebalgs assured readers that “as Commissioner for Development, [he] will continue to call on Member States to keep their promises.” Please ask other EU leaders to protect development spending in the next EU budget and help your country stay on track to help the world’s poorest. Sign our petition here.
* “Agenda for Change” is the EU’s development policy launched by Commissioner Piebalgs in October 2011.
Jun 25th, 2012 9:24 AM UTC
By Adrian Lovett
One of the most important things we try to do here at ONE is hold leaders accountable for their promises to the world’s poorest countries. Each year we release a scorecard of how well the wealthiest countries are doing against their commitments – it’s called the DATA Report.
For six years, the DATA report tracked progress against the Gleneagles commitments made by the G7 in 2005. Those commitments expired in 2010. So this year the DATA Report turns its attention to the European Union and its bold commitments to continue increasing development assistance up to 2015.
With the economic crisis bringing austerity to much of Europe, this year’s report is especially important. In times of plenty it is easy to be generous – but in times of crisis, keeping those promises counts more than ever.
The 2012 DATA report reveals that some of the poorest people are paying the price of the economic crisis. Aid from the European Union declined last year for the first time since 2002, with fourteen EU countries cutting their aid. Aid promises to Africa are well off-track. Perhaps unsurprisingly the biggest cuts come from countries most hit by the crisis, namely Spain and Greece.
But that isn’t the whole story. The report also shows that some countries are protecting aid. Germany, Sweden, Italy and Belgium all succeeded in increasing aid last year. The Netherlands and Ireland have so far protected their promises to the poorest people during the crisis. And the UK remains on track to meet its promise to reach 0.7% of national income in aid from March 2013.
Some may argue the Europe has no choice but to cut aid during the crisis. However the economic crisis also puts into perspective Europe’s promises to Africa. European leaders leveraged €100 billion in a few days for a short-term fix to tide over Spanish banks. That’s five times the amount needed to deliver Europe’s promise to Africa from now to 2015. This aid could achieve so much – if invested in agriculture for example, if could lift over 20 million people out of poverty. It’s a sum of money that is small change in the context of European spending, but could make a very big difference to the lives of those in poverty.
There is an opportunity very soon for European leaders to start to turn this around. Leaders are beginning to negotiate the next European budget. Out of a proposed €1 trillion seven-year budget, €51 billion – just five per cent – is earmarked to help fight poverty. It is vital that even as leaders try to reduce the overall budget, they protect this amount.
When Merkel, Hollande, Cameron and the rest of Europe’s leaders meet in Brussels this weekend, the 2012 DATA report must be a reminder to them that their promises to Africa have not been forgotten.
May 21st, 2012 11:42 AM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
On Friday I went to Jersey to hand-in our petition to Cathy Keir in the Chief Minister’s Office, asking them to stop vulture funds using Jersey’s courts to prey on poor countries. Along with the Jubilee Debt Campaign we’ve been campaigning hard to see Jersey bring in the UK’s Vulture Funds law, and in a week’s time the Democratic Republic of Congo’s appeal to the Privy Council will be heard – with things hanging in the balance as to whether they’ll have to pay $100m to vulture fund FG Hemisphere.
After having much of their debt cancelled by the IMF and World Bank just last year, the impact that this will have on the DRC, and the people living in extreme poverty, is just unimaginable. The Chief Minister’s team confirmed that legislation is on the way, but there’s no way that it will now be in place in time to counter this case. We’ll be closely watching the outcome of the DRC’s appeal next Monday, and may have to call on you again to take action. Let’s hope this is a victory for right over wrong.
Your voices have been heard by Jersey’s Chief Minister’s office.
If you want to add your voice you can still sign the petition here.
Feb 1st, 2012 1:13 PM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
We’ve been campaigning alongside the Jubilee Debt Campaign to see an end to vulture funds using Jersey’s courts to prey on poor countries for old debt. And last night Senator Ian Gorst, Jersey’s Chief Minister, announced plans to do so by introducing a law against vulture funds, as made permanent in the UK last year.
Over 26,000 of you in the UK signed our petition calling for this to happen. Very rarely are issues without grey areas, but companies just shouldn’t be able to behave in this way, and stop the poorest of countries getting back on their feet. And that’s what we’ve said as ONE to Jersey’s Chief Minister – and we’ve been heard.
In announcing these new plans, Senator Gorst said that:
“This demonstrates Jersey’s commitment to play its part in the global effort to support measures which assist the world’s most heavily indebted poor countries.”
We hope this means that the law will be introduced imminently, so countries like the DRC have a chance to stand up against these vultures. We may well still have more to do, and will keep you updated on Jersey’s promise, but for now, thank you for helping right this wrong.
Nov 16th, 2011 6:35 PM UTC
By Claire Hazelgrove
Now that progress is under threat.
Vulture funds make money by buying up old debt against developing countries, and using the courts to sue them for it in order to reap massive profits. That’s just wrong.
The problem is, that while the vulture funds law brought in the UK last year finally stopped this activity happening here, this doesn’t currently extend to Jersey.
Right now, vulture fund FG Hemisphere is using Jersey’s courts to claim $100m from the Democratic Republic of Congo, on a debt thought to have been bought for $3.3m.
After having much of their debt cancelled by the IMF and World Bank just last year, the impact that this will have on the DRC, and people living in extreme poverty, is just unimaginable. This shouldn’t be happening – let alone so close to home.
Join ONE and the Jubilee Debt Campaign UK in asking Jersey’s Chief Minister to take a stand, by extending the law that already exists here in the UK. It’s simply not right to turn a blind eye.
Thanks for your support on this, and please ask your friends to sign up too.
Dec 10th, 2010 5:00 PM UTC
By Abdul Khaliq Shah
I work for the aid agency Oxfam in Pakistan, helping with the response to the recent catastrophic floods in my country this year. I want to say thank you for signing ONE’s petition calling for Pakistan’s debts to be frozen and tell you why this was important.
The floods were unprecedented, having an even worse impact than the Tsunami: covering one fifth of the entire country, and affecting over 20 million people, the majority of whom are poor rural communities, already living below the poverty line. Through my work I have witnessed first-hand the devastating impact the catastrophe has had on so many. Initially this involved helping communities to access clean water, food, medicines and shelter, but we will be working hard for months and probably years to come to help flood-hit people fully recover.
While Pakistan is in desperate need of resources, it is being pushed by lenders to continue paying its foreign debt, ignoring the urgent needs of millions of people in distress. Pakistani civil society has been constantly urging lender governments and international institutions to provide much needed debt relief to Pakistan, so that it is able to help the millions of people desperately in need.
This is where your voice has helped achieve an important step. We presented the joint petition signed by over 200,000 people at a vital meeting of the countries who are responding to the crisis. It sent a clear message that they should ensure Pakistan has as much of its own resources as possible to spend on the long term rebuilding work to help those affected.
This call for action has helped to get the issue firmly on the international agenda – a vital start. What’s needed next is for the Pakistan Government to make it clear that resources freed up through debt relief will directly benefit those affected by the disaster, and donor countries to insist this happens as part of any support they give. Oxfam and local organisations will be campaigning strongly on this in Pakistan and joining with organisations like ONE to keep pressuring governments around the world.
Thank you again for your support.
Abdul Khaliq Shah
Policy & Advocacy Officer
Nov 19th, 2010 11:30 AM UTC
By Stuart McWilliam
This week ONE was part of a campaign coalition that delivered a petition signed by over 200,000 people (including more than 60,000 ONE members) calling for Pakistan’s debt to be frozen. This sent a strong message from members of ONE and our campaign partners Oxfam, Avaaz and Jubilee Debt Coalition, that rich countries should ensure Pakistan has as much of its own resources possible to spend on reconstruction after the devastating floods earlier this year.
The 202,381 person strong petition was delivered at the Pakistan Development Forum in Islamabad, a meeting of countries who provide aid to Pakistan, where the issue of debt and long term poverty reduction was being discussed. Stephen Engelken, a senior US Diplomat in Pakistan, received the petition and passed our message on to representatives from other countries and the IMF (the international institution which oversees countries’ debt).
The current position of these countries is that they aren’t prepared to freeze or help with the debt until Pakistan’s Government makes it clear it will spend the money to help those affected by the floods. However they are leaving the door open for a positive decision in the near future.
Two things need to happen next: the Pakistan Government should establish a clear and publicly transparent fund, demonstrating how debt money will be spent on reconstruction and helping those that have been affected, and showing how it will account for this. And rich countries need to make clear that resources freed up by help with Pakistan’s debt support is used to assist those affected by the floods, in an open, transparent way with clear monitoring. Campaigners in Pakistan and around the world will continue to put pressure on both sets of Governments to do this.
Nov 9th, 2010 5:21 PM UTC
By Weldon Kennedy
Pakistan is still reeling from the massive floods earlier this year, but there is a very simple thing we can all do to help: push for a freeze on Pakistan’s debt payments.
For the last couple of months, we’ve been advocating for a freeze that would enable Pakistan to spend more of its resources over next two years on rebuilding. If you’re not one of the 55,000 + people who have signed the petition, please do so because at the end of this week, we’re joining Avaaz, Jubilee Debt Coalition, and Oxfam to deliver the petition at an important meeting of world leaders in Pakistan who will be discussing how to help the country rebuild.
This delivery will come on the heels of the Senate of Pakistan issuing a call last week for a reprieve from debt payments – so it couldn’t come at a better time. It also comes at a time where the slow pace of recovery is starting to sting as there have been outbreaks of dengue fever and cholera among flood victims.
For a bit of a reminder why Pakistan needs this reprieve, I highly recommend taking a look at two sets of photos put together by the Big Picture blog (here and here) capturing a sense of the scale of devastation.
While you’re having a look at those pictures, also keep this map from the BBC in mind to understand just how much of the country was impacted by these floods. To me it makes it clear as can be that we must do what we can to help in the face of such a challenge.
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