Campaigning

The Chaplaincy is committed to campaigning on a number of social justice issues.

UNIVERSITY PLAYS KEY ROLE IN GETTING THIRD WORLD DEBT BILL THROUGH PARLIAMENT

["It was the Uni wot did it!" Or helped to do it. And Chaplaincy members and supporters took the lead. DWG]

The house of Lords has this afternoon rubber-stamped the so called 'Vultures Law', a landmark bill which will protect the poorest countries in the world, a bill which was uniquely supported by Newcastle University.

The Debt Relief (Developing Countries) Bill, led by the Jubilee Debt Campaign, is the world's first law to restrict the ability of Vulture Funds to sue some of the world's poorest countries for full repayment of debts that they have bought up cheaply.

Last November two Vulture Funds were awarded $20 million in the High Court from Liberia - the second poorest country in the world - for a debt dating back to the 1970s. This law is expected to make that verdict unenforceable.

Newcastle was the only university in the country to give its backing to the campaign and helped to put pressure on Government to get the bill through by persuading several key world figures, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, to add their support.

Dr David Golding (Marine Science and technology), who led the campaign on behalf of the university, said: "I was furious when I learnt unscrupulous corporate predators ('Vulture Funds') were hijacking the relief process. Buying up poor country debts at knock-down prices, these Funds sue for full repayment when debt relief is granted, siphoning off resources earmarked for health care, schools, etc., and making astronomical profits in the process.

"With the passing of the new Bill, we have started to curb this outrageous behaviour. I congratulate Jubilee Debt Campaign on the success of its pioneering efforts and thank those MPs who have supported it. I am immensely gratified that Britain has once again taken a lead on this issue - gratified too that my university and region have taken such an active and prominent role, a role which is undoubtedly globally unique!"

Director of the Jubilee Debt Campaign, Nick Dearden, said: "We hugely appreciate the contribution that the staff and students of Newcastle University have made towards this bill becoming law, from the Pro-Vice Chancellor Paul Younger, to the staff and students unions. Your support for debt relief over many years has made a big difference."

Andrew Gwynne, MP, Sponsor of the bill said: "I am absolutely thrilled that my bill has been passed into law. It was completely unacceptable that a small number of companies were ever allowed in the UK courts to profiteer off the third world debt market. These "vulture funds" were completely unjust and it is to the credit of this parliament, and the efforts of the Jubilee Debt Campaign that we have finally managed to pass this law. I said I would put a stop to these vulture funds, and I did."

North East Call to Action on Global Poverty and Climate Change (NE-CAP)

Make Poverty History North East was constituted on 8 May 2006 and in September 2010 was renamed NE-CAP

Objectives

  • Continue to promote the aims of the national Make Poverty History campaign of 2005, with its emphasis on Trade Justice, Drop the Debt, and More and Better Aid, in accordance with the Manifesto of Make Poverty History.
  • Promote urgent action to curb global warming, given the '... impacts of climate change will fall disproportionately upon developing countries and the poor ... within all countries' (Third Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change).
  • Promote Fairtrade.

Dr David Golding, an honorary chaplain, is Development Coordinator.