May 7

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May 7th: Boycotting Bonds from the World Bank

World Bank Boycott Europe

The World Bank Boycott is an international grassroots campaign that is building moral, political, and financial pressure on the World Bank. The World Bank, the popular name for the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development, raises nearly all of its funds by issuing bonds on the private capital market. Ordinary people, through their pension funds, labour unions, churches, municipalities, universities and private investments, are exerting considerable pressure for change on the World Bank by refusing to buy its bonds.

The Boycott was initiated by 35 groups from global South countries and the Centre for Economic Justice in Washington in April 2000.  Since then a remarkable number of organisations have expressed their support and a wide international network of non-governmental organisations is promoting the campaign.  The Boycott came to Europe last year and the coordinators are visiting Britain on a speaking tour to raise enthusiasm for effective local resistance to the Bank.

“Because the impact of neo-liberal globalisation is global, we must respond at the same level.  The World Bank Bonds Boycott is one of the most important tactics we have.   We rely on the boycott to build alliances with others who are challenging the World Bank." Bertha Caceres, Executive Committee, Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras


The World Bank: Funding Global Apartheid

·         Profits from the Poor? In 2001, the World Bank posted a profit of more than $1.2 billion (Source: World Bank Annual Report, 2001)

·         In whose interest?  45 per cent of World Bank lending finds its way back to corporations -- most of which are based in the United States, Europe, and Japan -- via Bank contracts. (Source: The Ecologist Report, September 2000)

·         Accountable to whom? The World Bank’s voting structure is based on a system of one dollar, one vote.  The G-7 governments control 43% of the voting rights.  Meanwhile, all the countries of sub-Saharan Africa combined have less than seven percent of the vote. (Source: World Bank website, )

The World Bank, together with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), are the biggest funders of a new global Apartheid, an international system of minority rule, where the interests of the rich dominate over the needs of the poor, the overwhelming majority of whom are people of colour.  

World Bank policies force impoverished countries to prioritise debt repayment over human need, diverting resources from health, education, and clean water. Decades of World Bank lending in Africa have undermined the continent’s public health system and have exacerbated the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Meanwhile, the Bank makes it easier for companies to fire workers and to change their labour laws to weaken the collective power of workers. Poor women are losing ground in social and economic empowerment as a consequence of these policies.

The World Bank Bonds Boycott: A Tool to Challenge Corporate Globalisation

"The role of the World Bank in Africa is a critical ethical issue. As a matter of conscience, people should take action to register their disapproval with the World Bank's policies by boycotting their bonds!" - Rev. Dr. Molefe Tsele, General Secretary of the South African Council of Churches

Grassroots movements throughout the global South have long been protesting the policies of the World Bank, the IMF, and the governments of the rich countries that control these institutions.  These policies have rendered their societies poorer, more dependent, and more unequal.

Across the globe, community groups, unions, and others are struggling against the domestic effects of World Bank-style corporate globalisation.  These include diminishing social services, the destruction of the welfare system, lower wages, environmental degradation, and restrictive immigration policies. As corporations grow in size and power, democracy the world over is being threatened

The World Bank Bonds Boycott is a campaign through which people are challenging the globalisation of apartheid -- both to support the movements of our sisters and brothers in the global South and to reclaim our own democracy.  The campaign gives taxpayers, working people, and students a tool for exerting power over globalisation –and, at the local level, over how our colleges, towns, and pension funds invest our money.  The World Bank (officially named the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development) gets most of its money through the sale of bonds. Corporations and large investors, including institutions in our own communities, purchase World Bank bonds.  

The World Bank Bonds Boycott is:

·         Education about globalisation. The boycott educates people about the environmental and social impacts of IMF and World Bank policies in low-income countries, as well as about the ricochet effects of globalisation in high income countries.

·         Advocacy to reduce the World Bank’s power.  The boycott gives a rare opportunity for the public to challenge the policies and reduce the power of an institution which directly affects billions of lives; and

·         Movement-building.  The campaign is helping revitalize democratic processes, organizing and mobilizing people in ways that connect to economic justice struggles in their own communities.  Through the boycott, people are demanding accountability via their tax contributions, union dues, church collection plate, and tuitions.

The campaign calls on the World Bank to:


 End structural adjustment lending and all related policies of privatisation and austerity;


Cancel 100% of debts owed to it by impoverished countries; and

bullet      Stop support for environmentally destructive projects, which includes all oil, gas, mining, and dam projects.

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