Building on International Debt Relief Initiatives: Testimony for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

December 23, 2009

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Watch the full testimony (Nancy Birdsall starts at 01:14:00)

From Dr. Birdsall's testimony:

As many of you know, the Center for Global Development was founded in 2001 as an independent, non-partisan think tank dedicated to improving the policies of the rich countries as they relate to the world's poor countries and poorest people. What you may not know is that it was a film growing out of the Jubilee debt movement, which portrayed the burden of debt in the world's poorest countries, that inspired my co-founder and the Center's principal benefactor, Edward W. Scott, Jr. that the rich world could do better for the poor -- including through better U.S. debt and aid policy. One result is that U.S. debt policy has been a core issue for CGD since its inception.

I would like to make four points.

First: Debt relief is a highly efficient form of aid and has clearly helped foster social progress and economic growth in low-income countries

Second: Debt relief itself is not a panacea

Third: The Jubilee Act under consideration, despite its merits, raises several concerns

Fourth: Consider a better Jubilee bill to help poor countries minimize and better manage debt

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