When Sinners Become Arbiters

The conference on debt reduction for the highly indebted poor countries went on, and its theme seemed to be quite noble as well: linking debt relief with poverty reduction.  "...debt and its servicing are contribution factors to poverty, because they have a tendency of diverting resources that should have been going to critical programs like education, health..." said one participant, a Ugandan by the name Zie Gariyo.

It seems from this that the creator of the conference - the IMF - upholds the policy that diversion of resources from programs like health and education should be reversed.

But let us talk about another way by which resources are also diverted - armed conflict.  Certainly, the purchase of arms by a poor country would definitely divert money from development programs.  Only last week, however, it was announced that the British government was criticized by a parliamentary committee for granting arms - related export licenses to Eritrea and Indonesia.

If it is a policy of the north that diversion of resources should to tackled, then it should not matter whether the diversion is a result of debt servicing or purchase of arms; according to such policy, diversion of resources, due to whichever reason, must stop.  Paradoxically, what is happening is that the British government, which has a good say in the IMF, is contribution to arms sales to a developing country, something that diverts resources from development.

Meanwhile, it is to be recalled that, in the recent G-8 summit held in Germany, the British government was one of those which were strongly lobbying that no debt reduction should be granted to countries engaged in armed conflict.

A recent report by the USIS reveals that small arms that are "fueling wars and violence around the world" are mostly produced in large numbers in developed countries.  In the meantime, another report argues that, while most African countries are reorienting and improving their economies, some others are lagging behind.  "Ethiopia and Eritrea," says Mima Nedelcovych, president of the Corporate Council on Africa, "praised a few years ago as part of the 'African Renaissance,' are involved in a border war."  Shall we remember here who is selling arms to countries in conflict?  Shall we remember who is contributing in no insignificant scale to the spread of violence in our part of the globe?

It is surprising how those who are selling arms to the developing world have found the moral upper-ground to call us war-lovers.  Even more surprising is that those who are supplying killing machines into the conflicts we are involved in - those who are very well participating in the "sin" - are now fiercely contending that we should be penalized by deprivation of debt relief.