Jubilee 2000

Logo of Jubilee 2000

Jubilee 2000 was an international coalition movement in over 40 countries that called for cancellation of third world debt by the year 2000. This movement coincided with the Great Jubilee, the celebration of the year 2000 in the Catholic Church. From early 2001, Jubilee 2000 split into an array of organisations around the world.


The concept derived from the biblical idea of the year of Jubilee, the 50th year. In the Jubilee Year as quoted in Leviticus, those enslaved because of debts are freed, lands lost because of debt are returned, and community torn by inequality is restored. It aimed to wipe out $90bn of debt owed by the world's poorest nations, reducing the total to about $37bn.

The idea was first articulated by Martin Dent, a retired lecturer in politics at the University of Keele, who with his friend, retired diplomat William Peters, linked the biblical Jubilee to a modern debt relief programme and founded the Jubilee 2000 campaign in the early 1990s.[1][2][3]

Early activism

The activities were initially directed through church channels, and youth groups in particular became heavily involved. Campaigns were launched via a secretariat in the United Kingdom, franchising the "trade mark" to any who directed campaign in the spirit of Jubilee 2000. The Church of England supported the movement; then-Archbishop of Canterbury George Carey addressed a rally in Trafalgar Square with Dent and Peters, and also made Jubilee 2000 the subject of his New Year’s Day address on BBC 1.[4][5]

Perhaps the best known part of the movement was the global campaign created to engage the music and entertainment industries called Drop The Debt. Among the supporters were Bono of rock band U2, Quincy Jones, Willie Colón, Muhammad Ali, Bob Geldof, Youssou N'dour, Thom Yorke, N.T. Wright and others.[6][7][8]

Jubilee 2000 staged demonstrations at the 1998 G8 meeting in Birmingham, England.[9] At the Birmingham meeting, which, among other things, focused on achieving sustainable economic growth in the context of environmental protection and good governance, between 50,000 and 70,000 demonstrators participated in a peaceful protest in an effort to put debt relief on the agenda of Western governments. The protestors made headlines around the world for their activities aimed at increasing awareness, such as forming a human chain around Birmingham City Centre, passing out petitions, and holding workshops.[10][11]

Impact on debt policy

The protests caught the attention of Prime Minister Tony Blair and Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown, who met with the directors of Jubilee 2000 to discuss the issue of heavy debt in poor countries.[12] Subsequently, the Prime Minister publicly expressed his personal support for, and dedication to, debt forgiveness.[13][14][15][16][17] While the UK's move to cancel significant third world debt was also influenced by the millennium development goals, Gordon Brown's decision to support debt cancelation at a Jubilee 2000 rally at St Paul's Cathedral underlies the significance of the movement in influencing UK policy.[18][19][20][21][22]

Later a promise from the United States during the G-7 (G-8 financial ministers, excluding Russia) meeting in Cologne, Germany in 1999 to cancel 100% of the debt that qualifying countries owed the U.S. was attributed in part to the influence of the campaign. Jubilee later lobbied the United States Congress to make good on this promise. Congress responded to the growing pressure to address debt relief issues in 2000 by committing $769 million to bilateral and multilateral debt relief.[23]

Post 2000

From early 2001, Jubilee 2000 split into an array of organisations around the world;[24] Jubilee South (encompassing many former Jubilee campaigns in Africa, Asia and Latin America); Jubilee Debt Campaign, Jubilee Scotland and Jubilee Research (hosted by nef new economics foundation) in the UK; Jubilee USA Network; Jubilé 2000/CAD Mali in Mali; and many other national organisations. These co-ordinate their actions through a loose global confederation.

Jubilee USA, located in Washington DC, is the USA's campaigning successor to Jubilee 2000. Erlassjahr.de is the German branch. There are very many other organisations around the world which also carry forward the debt campaign.

Former Jubilee 2000 UK staff founded the short-lived Drop The Debt to work in the run-up to the 2001 G8 Summit in Genoa, maintaining Jubilee 2000's combination of lobbying, celebrity work and mass activism. Jubilee Research at the New Economics Foundation, located in London, took over from Jubilee 2000 in 2001 and now provides in-depth analysis and data on third world debt. Jubilee Debt Campaign is the UK's campaigning successor to Jubilee 2000, comprising much of the UK's original Jubilee 2000 membership, while Jubilee Scotland campaigns north of the border. The campaign calls for cancellation of debts owed by the world's poorest countries.

Debt was one of the targets of 2005's Make Poverty History Campaign.


  1. http://www.thetimes.co.uk/tto/opinion/obituaries/article4076339.ece
  2. "Genesis of the Campaign". Yale School of Management: Faith & Globalization Case Studies. Retrieved 2010-08-23.
  3. https://www.uk.iofc.org/william-peters-co-founder-jubilee-2000-dies
  4. "Episcopal News Service Archives". Archive.episcopalchurch.org. 1998-01-07. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  5. Edmund Conway. "Why a debt jubilee is not the answer to Britain's prayers". Telegraph. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  6. http://www.nyrock.com/worldbeat/09_2000/090600.asp
  7. http://sojo.net/magazine/2000/05/irresistible-force
  8. http://www.theguardian.com/theguardian/2014/may/22/martin-dent-obituary
  9. http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/367897.stm
  10. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/bill-peters-highflying-diplomat-who-went-on-to-cofound-the-jubilee-2000-international-debt-remission-campaign-9544388.html
  11. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/obituaries/10875464/Martin-Dent-obituary.html
  12. http://www.just1world.org/debt-relief.htm
  13. http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/5260
  14. http://www.independent.co.uk/news/brown-will-cancel-third-world-debt-1133042.html
  15. http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jun/11/uk.g8
  16. http://old.jubileedebtcampaign.org.uk/Brown3720calls3720for37203722full3720debt3720relief3722+47.twl
  17. http://www.indcatholicnews.com/news.php?viewStory=12264
  18. Andrew Grice and Gary Finn (1999-12-18). "Brown will cancel Third World debt - News". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-04-09.
  19. http://www.imoonline.org/gcforum4.htm
  20. http://www.theage.com.au/news/General/Saving-the-world-with-Elton-Bob-and-Bono/2005/06/10/1118347591578.html
  21. http://www.zoominfo.com/p/German-Jubilee/14468919
  22. http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/3532/1/From_transnational_protest_to_domestic_political_opportunities(LSERO).pdf
  23. E. Carrasco, C.McClellan, & J. Ro (2007), "Foreign Debt: Forgiveness and Repudiation" University of Iowa Center for International Finance and Development E-Book
  24. Gready, Paul (2004). Fighting for Human Rights. Routledge   via Questia (subscription required) . pp. 54–74. ISBN 0415312914.
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