North-South Illegitimate Debt Conference – 09/08 – Quito

Debt campaigners from over thrity countries in the rich and poor world met in Quito, Ecuador, over the last week to make plans for the international fight against illegitimate debt.

The location of Ecuador was not chosen at random, for while international delegates made plans the country´s officials and civil society members were finishing an audit of Ecuador´s illegitimate debt, the first time that any country has put together an official and properly-resourced exposé of unjust debt.

It was inspiring to participate, and see how Scottish  debt activism fits into a huge and highly diverse global movement. As the week wore on campaigners from Asia, Europe and the Amercias first got to understand each other´s perspectives and strategies, then to argue with each other, and in many cases to reach powerful agreements. And all this against the backdrop of a country which is beginning to assert itself strongly against the gross imposition of debt.

The two final resolutions that the conference passed were in support of the Haitian people – whose suffering is currently so exacerbated by unjust debt – and also in support of the Ecuadorean debt commission, with a particular hope that their findings would inspire policymakers to renounce and repudiate the country´s illegitimate debt.

As the conference breaks up, however, this final outcome hangs in the balance: the commission does not deliver its report until the 28th of September. And there is the small matter of a national constitution to steer through in the meantime. One thing is for certain – the debt campaigners of the world may be flying out of Ecuador, but they will be watching it extremely closely over the next few weeks. A small country, it could be about to throw a punch at international debt that is well above its weight.


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