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2.3.2 An Act of Covenanting and four concretizations

First concretization of the act of covenant

  • For a just economic order on local, national, regional and international levels for all people;
  • For liberation from the foreign debt bondage that affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people.

We commit ourselves to work and to engage our churches to work:

1. Towards economic systems and policies which reflect that people come first. This basic position implies that

  1. economic systems exist for humankind and not the other way around,
  2. empowerment and participation of people and not accumulation of wealth/ possessions are the basic organizing principles,
  3. the idol of materialism should be replaced by respect for human beings, other living creatures and the environment,
  4. the rich economies should accept a limit to growth so that resources can be made available for production aimed at fulfilling the basic needs of all,
  5. no individual should increase his/her affluence at the expense of others,
  6. economic and social policies are based on justice for all regardless of race, sex or caste instead of piece-meal, paternalistic programmes of charity,
  7. economic policies are based on people's participation and empowerment at all levels instead of abusing people as consumers and factors of production,
  8. economic policies reflect that justice for all people takes priority over financial gain,
  9. equal access to education and meaningful employment for all with preferential opportunity for those discriminated against on grounds of race, caste and sex is seen as an indispensable foundation for a just economy,
  10. the unjust economic system be abolished that forces women (and also sometimes children and men) into prostitution and other forms of sex industry in order to feed themselves and their families,
  11. the basic needs of a society and its people determine economic and political policies - and not the economic values and interests of transnational corporations and international monetary agencies such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank,
  12. we strive to establish accountability by governments, international organizations, transnational corporations, and other organizations like churches and church-related bodies, to all, especially those negatively affected by economic policies,
  13. we identify and work to eliminate the structure of sexism that makes women and children the primary victims of poverty,
  14. the economic worth of women's work be recognized and counted,
  15. we actively search for a fundamentally new value system based on justice, peace and the integrity of creation that will guide political economic policies.

2. Towards a church free of complicity with unjust economic structures and following ecumenical guidelines for the sharing of resources. This implies, among others, that

  1. churches re-affirm that economic activities like every other dimension of human life stand under the judgment of God,
  2. churches recognize their need to be liberated from their complicity in unjust economic systems and recognize the principal role played by people's movements in the struggle for economic justice,
  3. churches exercise stewardship over their income and possessions, e.g. lands, buildings and investments, and be guided in their policies by a preferential option for the poor,
  4. churches adopt and apply the Guidelines for Ecumenical Sharing of Resources worked out in a world consultation on this subject in El Escorial, 1987,
  5. churches support alternative production, trade, banking and credit systems which are based on justice, peace and the integrity of creation, and that they increase investments in the Ecumenical Development Cooperative Society (EDCS) by at least 50 per cent over the next five years, thereby expressing the conviction that social return on investment takes priority over financial return,
  6. churches and church related organizations develop 'economic literacy campaigns' to educate their members with regard to the way economic policies and systems work,
  7. churches participate actively in campaigns to reduce the burden of commercial debt by at least 50% and total debt cancellation for governmental loans or other official debt,
  8. churches actively support and participate in the WCC programme, Ecumenical Decade: Churches in Solidarity with Women (1988-1998) and facilitate the networking of women.

3. Towards liberation from the foreign debt bondage, which affects the lives of hundreds of millions of people, and the establishment of a just structure of the international financial system. This implies, among others, that

  1. the international financial system be restructured according to the principles of universal accountability, equitable distribution and just reward for labour,
  2. international trade policies be based on a just reward for labour and a just price for all commodities, and that the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) complies with these principles,
  3. the rich share in the costs of adjustment policies that are necessary to eliminate the unbearable debt burdens of the poor,
  4. viable and lasting solutions to the debt crisis are urgently sought, recognizing the fact that this crisis keeps whole economies in bondage, is an instrument for foreign domination, worsens the economic plight of women, children and other marginalized groups, ignores the fact that the wealth in the countries of the North has its origins largely in the exploitation of the countries of the South, prevents basic needs from being fulfilled, leads to environmental destruction, and is a threat to peace,
  5. support is given to 'the Year of Jubilee' initiatives taken by several churches and movements to work for the cancellation of the debt of poor countries,
  6. we oppose all conditions on debt cancellation initiated by outsiders, no matter how well-meaning, and support only conditions demanded by peoples' organisations and ecumenical bodies of the specific debtor country,
  7. support is given to the initiative to create an Ecumenical Fund to Combat the Debt Crisis into which those who earn interest could pay 10 per cent of their interest earnings, and out of which activities will be supported which aim at exposing the causes and effects of the international debt crisis,
  8. current structural adjustment policies which the IMF imposes on nations in debt be denounced as they result in the reduction of food available to the poor, thereby increasing under- and malnutrition, hunger-related diseases and infant mortality.


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