Rich countries must lead health and green recovery

Updated: Mar 26, 2021

Amnesty International

Amnesty International called on G20 leaders ahead of their virtual meeting from 17 to 19 July to take unprecedented steps towards tackling the global inequalities fueling the COVID-19 and climate crises. COVID-19 has exposed glaring inequalities that exist in our world and if we are to build resilience to future crises, we need to make long-term structural changes that require courage and leadership from G20 countries. Cancel debt to free up resources Julie Verhaar, acting secretary-general for Amnesty International, says G20 finance ministers should commit to cancelling debt of the world’s poorest countries, scaling up investments in health and social protections and phasing out fossil fuels to ensure a just and sustainable recovery from the pandemic. She says the debt owed by the world’s poorest countries should be cancelled for at least the next two years, freeing up resources for countries to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. “The flawed priorities of the rich and powerful have led us to a global emergency and G20 countries must break with the past by investing in people and human rights, leading the way to recovery. According to the Jubilee Debt Campaign, 64 countries spend more on debt repayments than on public healthcare,” says the acting secretary-general. Verhaar says the poorest 77 countries will spend nearly $85 billion in debt repayments in 2020 and 2021 and about 40% of this is owed to rich countries with the remainder to international institutions and private lenders. She says it should be unthinkable that any country would spend more money on debt repayments than healthcare in the face of a pandemic. Human rights must prevail over debt Last month, António Guterres, secretary-general of the United Nations, stated that a large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response amounting to at least 10% of the global GDP is needed to address the impact of COVID-19. In April, the G20 committed to suspending up to $12 billion of debt payments f