Calls for debt cancellation to ensure social security


Debt cancellation

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – AMNESTY International, the human rights group, has called for international creditors to reschedule or cancel debts amid a lack of social security condemning millions to dire situations.

Inadequate social protection has left victims facing hunger or trapped in a cycle of poverty and deprivation.

Amnesty’s call is carried in the briefing, “Rising Prices, Growing Protests: The Case for Universal Social Protection.”

The group reported that high levels of debt, and the cost of servicing it, mean that heavily indebted states often lack the financial capacity to realize social security aspirations.

Low-income countries spend four times more on debt repayments than they do on health service provision, and 12 times more on debt payments than on social protection, according to Oxfam.

According to the International Monetary Fund’ (IMF) annual report, around 60 percent of low-income countries are in debt distress or at a high risk of debt distress, and risk defaulting on repayments.

Debt cancellation or rescheduling would free up substantial funding in many countries to pay for social protection.

Amnesty called for international debt relief and urged states to enact tax reforms and clampdown on tax abuse, to free up substantial funding to pay for social protection.

“A combination of crises has revealed how ill-prepared many states are to provide essential help to people,” said Agnès Callamard, Amnesty’s Secretary General.

She believes it is “shocking” that over 4 billion people, or about 55 percent of the world’s population, have no recourse to even the most basic social protection, despite the right to social security being enshrined since 1948 in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

The briefing shows how rising food prices, climate change and the economic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, are driving a catastrophic humanitarian crisis, and leading to increased social unrest and protests.

The Amnesty briefing shows how the lack of social security in many states has left communities more exposed to sudden economic shocks, the consequences of conflict, climate change or other upheaval. The fallout from these crises, including widespread hunger, higher unemployment and anger at falling living standards, has motivated protests around the world, which have often been brutally suppressed.

The World Food Programme says 349 million people around the world are in immediate danger from a shortage of food, and 828 million go to bed hungry every night.

“Universal social protection can address the violations of economic and social rights that are often at the heart of grievances and protest,” Callamard said.

– CAJ News








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