Thursday, July 07, 2005

Is There Something Missing In This Declaration Against Poverty?

If you follow religion and politics closely, you are sure to be aware of the Sojourners organization. Recently they organized a delegation to the G8 Summit in order to help deal with the issue of world poverty. A noble goal indeed. But we are not judged only in accordance with the nobility of our goals. Here is part of the text of their declaration contained in a news piece:

We also applaud momentum being built by grass roots campaigns around the world who are addressing these issues and pledge to mobilize our energies, in partnership with faith leaders from the Global South, to realize common goals emerging from these campaigns and the Millennium Development Goals:

Debt – The recent agreement on 100% debt cancellation for eighteen of the world’s poorest countries represents a major step forward that should now be expanded to include all multilateral creditors and more impoverished and heavily indebted nations.

Aid – The moral scandal of extreme poverty requires that the wealthy nations do much more to assist the poorest countries in fighting poverty, hunger and disease through a dramatic improvement in the quantity and quality of aid. We are also united in the call for good governance and an end to the corruption that undermines all nations and people. Conditions attached to aid and debt cancellation must not be used to reinforce existing patterns of inequality that undermine pro-poor policies of local governments.

Trade – The structural inequities and power imbalances in trade rules that tilt toward the rich nations at the expense of impoverished nations must be reformed so that people can earn a sustainable income and the private sector can generate jobs and wealth for the common good. Rich countries must reform their subsidies to prevent the dumping of produce on world markets and strengthen special and differential treatment for poor countries so that they are able to protect vulnerable producers and develop new industries.

Though there is a bit of emphasis on what I consider to be the primay goal in dealing with world poverty-the governmental structure of nations-it is subusmed within the perceived responsibility of rich nations. Rich nations can give aid all day long (and have been for decades), but if toatlitarian regims are not eliminated, will that aid make it to the people who need it the most? History tells us "no."

I applaud the efforts and intentions of Sojourners, but I wonder if their political philosophy has created a blind spot in their declaration.

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