This report exposes how current global south debt is both a colonial legacy, and a neo-colonial tool used by global north governments, institutions and corporations to plunder the wealth of, and extend their control over, global south countries and communities.
Despite presenting themselves as the generous providers of loans, global north elites use debt to maintain their power and wealth in the global system. The benefits for global north powers have been stark. Not only have they been able to maintain their position of power in the global system as creditors, they have used debt and debt crises to pursue their own political and financial interests.
Meanwhile, communities in the global south have experienced devastating outcomes. Unjust debt has increased vulnerability, marginalisation, exploitation and precarity. High debt burdens have drained resources away from vital public services, while economic reforms have further cut public spending, wages, job opportunities and working conditions.
Despite the significant power exercised through debt, people are powerfully resisting its impacts and realities. From fighting water privatisation enforced via loans in Indonesia and Bolivia, to securing hundreds of billions of dollars of debt cancellation as a result of the global Jubilee campaign, communities have shown that challenging unjust debt is possible.We explore this resistance through a number of different case studies created in collaboration with activists and academics from around the world.
We also explore how debt cannot be seen as distinct from multiple intersecting forms of injustice, such as the climate crisis, workers’ rights, ableism or gender and racial injustice. It is deeply connected to other struggles, both being impacted by them and exacerbating them.