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Note: This document is from the archive of the Africa Policy E-Journal, published by the Africa Policy Information Center (APIC) from 1995 to 2001 and by Africa Action from 2001 to 2003. APIC was merged into Africa Action in 2001. Please note that many outdated links in this archived document may not work.

USA/Africa: Sign-On Letter to Treasury Secretary

USA/Africa: Sign-On Letter to Treasury Secretary
Date distributed (ymd): 020513
Africa Action Document

Africa Policy Electronic Distribution List: an information service provided by AFRICA ACTION (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Find more information for action for Africa at

+++++++++++++++++++++Document Profile+++++++++++++++++++++

Region: Continent-Wide
Issue Areas: +economy/development+ +US policy focus+


This posting contains a letter initiated by Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum to U.S. Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill, in advance of his trip to Africa later this month. As the cover note below explains, we are inviting additional signatures from organizations in the U.S. and Africa, to be included when the letter is sent to Secretary O'Neill. See the note below for the deadline and e-mail address to use to sign on. Signatories already include ActionAid USA and Fifty Years is Enough. After the letter is sent, the full list of signatories will be made available on the Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum web sites. TransAfrica Forum's web site is

[May 20: The names of 110 groups signing before delivery of the letter on May 17 are listed below at the end of the letter.]

+++++++++++++++++end profile++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

Dear Colleagues,

Please consider signing on to the following letter to Paul O'Neill, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, in advance of his upcoming trip to Africa. He leaves next Monday, May 20, for an 11-day trip that includes stops in Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia.

This letter, initiated by Africa Action and TransAfrica Forum, urges a new U.S. policy approach to Africa's development challenges, based on the cancellation of Africa's illegitimate external debt and increased U.S. public investment in social development, particularly in responding to Africa's health crisis. It is very important that these critical issues be raised by as many groups as possible as the Secretary travels to Africa for the first time.

The letter will be sent to the U.S. Treasury on Friday, May 17, and will be released to the press on Monday, May 20, as the Secretary leaves for Ghana on the first leg of his trip.

To sign on, please send your name, title and organization to by 5pm on Thursday, May 16. Please send organizational signatures only. Signatories already include ActionAid USA and Fifty Years is Enough.

Please circulate this letter widely for maximum sign-ons.

Many thanks.

Ann-Louise Colgan, Africa Action

Mr. Paul O'Neill
Secretary of the U.S. Treasury
Department of the Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, D.C. 20220

Dear Secretary O'Neill,

As you prepare to travel to Africa for the first time at the end of this month, we write to urge a new U.S. policy approach to Africa's development challenges. We believe that U.S. efforts to support Africa's development should focus on the priority concerns of African countries. The Bush Administration should begin by removing the most obvious impediment to reducing poverty in Africa: the burden of illegitimate foreign debt. The U.S. should also support African initiatives with increased public investment in social development.

The Millennium Challenge Account, proposed by President Bush as a new vehicle for delivering U.S. bilateral aid to poor countries, is inappropriately designed for promoting development in Africa. An over-emphasis on the exaggerated benefits of free trade and the private sector as the engine of economic growth is flawed. A successful development agenda should be based on human development. Greater investment in people through health and education is proven to reduce poverty and promote economic growth. What is required is a significant commitment of resources from donors and creditors alike, and a new approach to partnership between rich and poor countries. A true partnership would not attempt to place the burden for sustaining health and education services on the shoulders of the poor through cost recovery measures such as user fees and the privatization of public utilities.

While we agree that both rich and poor countries should be held accountable, we strongly oppose the principle of tying aid to specific criteria, including economic policies and governance conditions, defined by Washington. It is correct to demand that resources be used effectively to achieve their intended purposes, but the monitoring mechanisms should be independent rather than unilaterally imposed by donors. The performance of both recipient countries and donor agencies should be evaluated in open and transparent processes, including participation by independent experts and representatives of civil society. For development to be successful, it will require a paradigm shift away from dictating policy to poor countries, toward supporting the poverty reduction initiatives defined by these countries.

We certainly welcome moves towards more realistic levels of development assistance, but the increase proposed by President Bush is still too little, too late. These sums are considerably less than what the U.S. -- in terms of its wealth and its share of the world economy -- should provide. Unless the world's single richest country increases its investment in poverty reduction, meeting the Millennium Development Goals will be impossible. Moreover, the two year delay in instituting the proposed increase in aid is unacceptable when the need for greater resources is immediate.

Most crucially of all, the Millennium Challenge Initiative fails to address Africa's debt crisis. Unconditional debt cancellation must be central to any effort to promote Africa's development. So long as African countries are forced to spend almost $15 billion per year repaying debts to rich foreign creditors, their efforts to address urgent domestic needs will be undermined. Increased development assistance from foreign donors will achieve little when this trickle of additional resources is more than offset by the unconscionable outward flow of debt repayments. Africa's debt is not only unsustainable, it is fundamentally illegitimate. As you well know, most loans were given for strategic purposes, to prop up repressive and corrupt regimes in the context of the Cold War. Now, Africa's people are repaying huge debts which were mainly incurred before their time and which did not benefit them.

The current international debt relief framework, the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiative, has failed to provide a solution to Africa's debt crisis. Even by the World Bank's own criteria, this initiative is not even reducing debt to "sustainable levels." Most African countries still spend many times more on debt repayments than on health care for their own people. The hemorrhaging of resources from African countries to repay foreign debts is the single largest impediment to the continent's development and economic independence.

Debt cancellation should be the very first priority of any U.S. initiative that seeks to promote Africa's growth. The U.S. should use its powerful position at the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) to move these institutions in this direction.

African efforts to respond to the continent's devastating health crisis and related economic and social challenges are crucial to the continent's future. U.S. assistance in support of these efforts is an appropriate form of public investment. This is not charity, but rather an obligation and a responsibility of all rich countries.

Moreover, increased investment in addressing the spread and impact of the HIV/AIDS crisis in Africa will prove highly effective in promoting sustainable growth. The pandemic has already cost millions of African lives, and the social and economic effects of the health crisis are undermining development across the continent. African governments do not command sufficient resources to tackle this global challenge alone. The U.S., as the richest country in human history, must provide far greater leadership and resources in combating the worst plague ever faced by humankind.

Mr. Secretary, your trip to Ghana, South Africa, Uganda and Ethiopia will afford you the opportunity to experience conditions in these countries first-hand. You must meet with African civil society groups in these countries, as well as with government agencies, to truly gain an understanding of the concerns they share and the challenges they face. You will, no doubt, learn about the official African initiative called the New Partnership for African Development (NEPAD). It is the most ambitious self-driven African development plan for a generation. But it is still an emerging initiative that is not yet fully informed by the participation of African civil society. It cannot become the basis for a partnership between African governments and rich country governments until it has first become a partnership between African governments and their own people, in which there is shared ownership reflected through the active engagement of African trade unions and civil society organizations. NEPAD will be at the top of the agenda of the G8 Summit in Canada next month. We will share our concerns with all of the Finance Ministers of the G8 countries in advance of that meeting.

In the meantime, we urge you to use your influence within the U.S. government and the World Bank and IMF to call for a new approach to the development challenges of Africa, based on the priorities outlined in this letter.


Salih Booker, Executive Director, Africa Action
Bill Fletcher, Jr., President, TransAfrica Forum

U.S. Groups:

Rev. Dr. Wyatt Tee Walker, President, Religious Action Network (RAN)
James M. McGee, National President, National Alliance of Postal and Federal Employees
Irungu Houghton, ActionAid USA
Njoki Njoroge Njehu, Director, 50 Years is Enough Network
The Rev'd Canon Benjamin Musoke-Lubega, The Episcopal Church Office of the Anglican and Global Relations
Dr. Hilbert D. Stanley, Executive Director, National Black Catholic Congress
Marie Clarke, Director, Jubilee USA Network
Rev. Elenora Giddings Ivory, Director, Washington Office, Presbyterian Church (USA)
Dr. Valora Washington, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
Naina Dhingra, Student Global AIDS Campaign
Deborah James, Fair Trade Director, Global Exchange
Fr. Phil Reed, Coordinator, Justice & Peace Office, Society of Missionaries of Africa
Leon Spencer, Executive Director, Washington Office on Africa
Asfaha Hadera, Executive Director, African Services Committee, Inc.
Lonnie Turner, Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Washington office
Claire Slattery, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN)
Neil Watkins, Center for Economic Justice
Tony Vento, Program Director, Pax Christi, USA
Kris Hermes, Health GAP
Kathleen McNeely, Program Associate, Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns
Marie Saint Cyr, Executive Director, Iris House, Inc.
Tom Barry, Co-Director, Foreign Policy in Focus
Dr. Paul Zeitz, Executive Director, Global AIDS Alliance
Darryl Fagin, Legislative Director, Americans for Democratic Action (ADA)
Bernard N. Somdah, Co-Chair, Oregon Africa Council
Steve Hellinger, President, The Development GAP
Paul Tennessee, World Confederation of Labor
Heeten Kalan, Director, South African Exchange Program on Environmental Justice, Boston
Nancy Alexander, Director, Citizens' Network on Essential Services
Wenonah Hauter, Director, Critical Mass Energy and Environment Project, Public Citizen
Sara Grusky, U.S. Coordinator, International Water Working Group
Marjorie Van Cleef, Coordinator, CT Peace Coalition/New Haven
Mary Turgi, Director, Holy Cross International Justice Office
Diana Bohn, Treasurer, San Francisco Bay Area Jubilee Debt Cancellation Coalition
Maura Browne, Justice & Peace Coordinator, Sisters of Notre Dame
Nancy McLaughlin PBVM, Chair, Conference of Social Justice Coordinators of Northern CA
John Iversen, ACT UP/East Bay, Oakland, CA
Elaine Hickman, Coordinator, Jubilee Northwest Coalition
Barbara Lubin, Middle East Childrens Alliance, Berkeley, CA
Lou Merle, Elders for Survival, Berkeley, CA
Marion Irvine, OP, Promoter of Social Justice, Dominican Sisters of San Rafael
Peter J. Davies, U.S. Representative, Saferworld
Dr. Bruce Roberts, Organizer, the Africa Interest Group, Minnesota
Rosemary Everett, snjm, Sisters of the Holy Names, CA Province Justice and Peace Committee
Dr. Marcia E. Sutherland, Co-Chair, Save Africa From AIDS (SAFA) Campaign
Christina M. Vogt, Executive Director, Genderwatchers
Fr. James E. Hug, Center of Concern
Stephanie Alston, Executive Director, West Africa Rainforest Network
Bob Kinsey, Peace and Justice Task Force, Rocky Mountain Conference, United Church of Christ
Dena Montague, Research Associate, World Policy Institute
Mike Prokosch, Global Program Coordinator, United for a Fair Economy
Chike C. Nwoffiah, Executive Director, Oriki Theater, CA
Rev. Elizabeth A. Braddon, Pastor, Park Slope United Methodist Church, Brooklyn, NY
Christine Vladimiroff, OSB, Prioress, Benedictine Sisters of Erie, PA
Lindsey T. Allard, Caribbean Education Forum student organization, Harvard University
Jacqueline Rose, MPH, Health Planner, New Orleans Regional AIDS Planning Council
Janet Gottschalk, Director, Alliance for Justice; Medical Mission Sisters
William J. Appel, Director, Metro Justice of Rochester
Ann Oestreich, IHM, Congregation Justice Coordinator, Sisters of the Holy Cross, Notre Dame
Cathy Arata, SHALOM: Justice, Peace Integrity of Creation Network of the School Sisters of Notre Dame
Tina Geiger, RSM, Institute Justice Office, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas
Clare Nolan, Congregation of the Sisters of the Good Shepherd
Sharon Altendorf PBVM, Executive Director, International Presentation Association of the Sisters of the Presentation
Mary Rose Kaczorowski, Plight of the Redwoods Campaign, CA
Chuks D. Eleonu, Secretary, African Alliance Foundation
Manna Jo Greene, Hudson Valley Sustainable Communities Network
Mwariama Kamau, 2nd Vice President, Universal Negro Improvement Association - African Communities League (UNIA-ACL) Division #330
Leslie Reindl, Administrator, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Minnesota Metro Branch
Marie Catherine Rabbitt, SL, President, Sisters of Loretto and Loretto Community
Rev. Paul J. Ewers, Comboni Missionaries of New Jersey
Sr. Maria Hornung, North American Assembly of Medical Mission Sisters
Tom Ricker, Policy Coordinator, Quixote Center/Quest for Peace
Steve Watrous, Coordinator, Wisconsin Fair Trade Campaign

Africa Groups:

Zackie Achmat, Chairperson, Treatment Action Campaign (South Africa)
Mary Kusambiza, Executive Director, Uganda Association of Women Lawyers (FIDA Uganda)
William Ahadzie, Coordinator, Center for Budget Advocacy (Ghana)
Lorato Banda, Institute for Democracy in South Africa
Dr. Willy Mutunga, Executive Director, Kenya Human Rights Commission
Dede Bedu-Addo, Regional Gender Coordinator, ActionAid Regional Office, Ghana
Florence Kaddu Mulumba, Secretary, Lungujja Women's Association, Uganda
L. Muthoni Wanyeki, Executive Director, African Women's Development and Communications Network (FEMNET)
Ngunga Tepani, Information Technology Officer, Tanzania Association of Non-Governmental Organizations (TANGO)
Kagqiria Mbogori, Executive Director, International Commission of Jurists (Kenya Section)
Dr. Omofolabo Ajayi, Nigerian Alliance for Democracy
Janet Feldman, Director, Kenya AIDS Intervention/Prevention Project Group (KAIPPG/International)
Christine Mukamazimpaka, Education and Gender Officer, ActionAid Rwanda
Demba Moussa Dembele, Director, Forum for African Alternatives (Senegal)
Njoki S. Ndungu, Director, Center for Legal Information and Communication in Kenya
Dr. Abdel-Fatau Musah, Senior Program Officer, Open Society Initiative for West Africa
Dr. Mobolaji E. Aluko, Nigerian Democratic Movement (NDM)
Andy Mensah, President, Ghana Union
Akin Amaka-Ojomo, Executive Secretary, Continental Africa Network, US
David Ugolor, President, African Network for Environmental and Economic Justice (Nigeria)
Esther Chege, Executive Director, Young Women's Institute, Kenya
Dr. Meto Edgar Onwuamaegbu, Group Moderator, Flashpoint-Nigeria
Dr. John Dada, Program Director, Fantsuam Foundation, Nigeria
Hoteph Osiris, Chief Elder, The Pan-Afrikan International Movement
Dr. Henry Uro-chukwu, President, International Association of Nigerian Students
Ms Nneka Uchenna Ifeka, Women Economic Empowerment Action
Saba Berhane, Ethiopian Community Development Council, Inc. (ECDC)

Other Groups:

Jeff Powell, Communications and Research Officer, Bretton Woods Project, UK
Diana Bohn, Nicaragua Center for Community Action
Toyin, Director,
Betty Nicolaisen, Vice President, Norwegian Peace Society
Leif John Fosse, Environment & Development Adviser, WWF-Norway
Gunhild ěrstavik, Coordinator, The Norwegian Forum for Environment and Development
Elsie Dean, Corresponding Secretary, Women's International League for Peace & Freedom, (British Columbia Branch, Canadian Section)
Arne Kjell Raust°l, Adviser, Norwegian Interdenominational Ofc for Development Cooperation
Albert Gyan, Jr., Coordinator, Kairos Europa
Oddvar Espegren, Stromme Foundation, Norway
Rita A. Clark, Director, Nicaragua-U.S. Friendship Office

Additional Signatures received after May 20

Elder Ron Gross, Chairman, Passaic County (NJ) Reparations Coalition
Arthur Haywood, Africa AIDS Action Committee, Philadelphia, PA
Beverly Keene, Coordinator, Jubilee South
Marchel Smiley, National President, African American Caucus, SEIU

This material is distributed by Africa Action (incorporating the Africa Policy Information Center, The Africa Fund, and the American Committee on Africa). Africa Action's information services provide accessible information and analysis in order to promote U.S. and international policies toward Africa that advance economic, political and social justice and the full spectrum of human rights.

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