About Jubilee

History of Jubilee


The History of Jubilee

Jubilee Australia grew out of an international movement that was rooted in the principle of global economic justice. For over a decade, campaigners in the Global South had long demanded debt cancellation, since being rocked by the ‘third world debt crisis’ of the 1980s. On a Saturday in May 1998, 70,000 people formed a giant human chain around the meeting of G8 leaders in Birmingham UK. The Jubilee 2000 movement had reached the centres of global power.  

The Jubilee Drop the Debt Coalition was formed in 1997and had over 60 member groups. The Jubilee 2000 petition became the largest foreign policy petition ever tabled in Australia, collecting a staggering 450,000 signatures. Jubilee Australia was founded in 2001.  

In 2001, thanks to the pressure of our campaign, our government pledged debt forgiveness for countries that qualified for relief under the IMF and World Bank Heavily Indebted Poor Country scheme. Then in 2004 the government fulfilled its earlier commitment, cancelling the bilateral debts of the Central America country of Nicaragua, worth $5.4 million, followed by cancellation of Ethiopia’s bilateral debt of $7.9 million. 

After these early successes, Jubilee began to focus more explicitly on the illegitimacy of the debts owed to Australia by regional neighbours like Indonesia and Philippines, instead of meeting addressing health and education needs in those countries. In 2007, thanks to our advocacy, the new Labor government finally shifted Australia’s longstanding resistance to participate in a Debt-for-Development exchange. A portion ($37.5 million) of Indonesia's debt to Australia was subsequently cancelled in exchange for an equal contribution to the Global Fund programs addressing Tuberculosis in Indonesia.  

Since this time Jubilee’s focus has expanded to include tax justice and corporate accountability.