Resolution adopted without a vote by the 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference
(Windhoek, 10 April 1998)

The 99th Inter-Parliamentary Conference,

Considering the breathtaking speed of the globalisation process, which affects all countries regardless of their capacity to cope therewith,

Mindful of the fact that the foreign debt burden limits the Third World's opportunities to become properly integrated into the globalisation process,

Considering that, since the debtor countries have never refused to meet their debt obligations, it is essential for the United Nations General Assembly to establish machinery whereby States can repay their debts without detriment to their populations,

Concerned by the economic crisis in the debtor countries in general which is aggravated by conditionalities imposed by international financial institutions and which, in the final analysis, primarily affects the masses in these countries and has an especially harsh impact on children, women, indigenous peoples and minority populations,

Recognising that exports to debtor countries greatly benefit the economies of creditor countries,

Mindful of the need to focus on the challenges posed by North-South problems and on the issue of mutual responsibility, and convinced that the debt crisis can be tackled effectively within a global forum involving all parties concerned, creditors and debtors alike, since the heavy debt burden leads to the inability of debtor countries to honour their debt repayment obligations and is a threat to the global economy,

Conscious that, in a world affected by the process of globalisation, more than a billion people live in absolute poverty and have been marginalised within society, thus being denied the opportunity to participate in productive economic life,

Mindful that the debt servicing of many countries exceeds their entire national budgets for education, housing, health and environmental programmes and related social and economic services, and consumes a disproportionately large percentage of their annual foreign exchange earnings, thus diverting much-needed funds from economic initiatives and human development needs, posing a threat to political stability and democratic development and aggravating conflicts,

1. Reaffirms the support of the world parliamentary system to the Third World countries' endeavours to find a viable, timely solution to the foreign debt problem - in part through the strengthening of the IMF/World Bank initiative (HIPC) in favour of developing countries - and supports the cancellation or a substantial reduction of the debt as part of the jubilee celebration of the year 2000, so that peoples can enter the new millennium in better conditions;

2. Calls on the Governments of the countries represented in the IPU to request, through their respective Ambassadors to the United Nations, that a debate be held at the next UN General Assembly session on the global problem of debt;

3. Urges the international community to consider favourably, within the United Nations, the innovative concept of debt-for-nature swaps;

4. Calls on the United Nations General Assembly to consider applying to the International Court of Justice at The Hague for an advisory opinion on the manner in which part of the debt was contracted;

5. Recommends that the Third World countries take a collective approach to adopting common principles in negotiating, and finding, viable solutions with international financial institutions and creditor countries, so as to achieve a net transfer of resources favourable to debtor countries as well as changes in conditionalities that affect them;

6. Urges creditors to co-operate with debtor countries - especially the heavily indebted poor countries - so that the latter can ensure their debt servicing, taking into account the fact that funds earmarked for debt servicing are diverted from investment in education, health and housing, thereby leading to a further deterioration of the Third World's alarming poverty indexes, and stresses the need for creditors to understand that progress made by the economies of the developing world will lead to readjustments on the international scene which will inevitably benefit them greatly;

7. Reiterates its request that the IBRD/World Bank and the International Monetary Fund be equipped with parliamentary observer institutions to monitor their activities and ensure that their policies take into account co-responsibility between debtor and creditor countries, so as to:

  • Promote sustainable, socially just and environmentally sound development in the Third World, with particular emphasis on human rights, democracy and reduced defence spending;
  • Involve recipient countries, and in particular their populations, in all stages of the planning and implementation of projects, thus ensuring that they include the essential " human dimension ";
  • Avoid deterioration of the living conditions and human rights of men, women and children by preserving basic health and education and enhancing productive capacity.

* The delegation of Japan expressed reservations on operative paragraph 1.
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