Debt cancellation: a moral imperative during pandemic

Headquarters of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. Photo: Public domain
Headquarters of the International Monetary Fund in Washington D.C. Photo: Public domain

LWF leader urges World Bank and IMF to consider impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable people and communities

(LWI) - The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge has written to the heads of global financial institutions urging them to consider the moral imperative of debt cancellation at this time of pandemic.

In a letter to the International Monetary Fund’s Managing Director, Dr Kristalina Georgieva and to the President of the World Bank, Mr David Malpass, the Lutheran leader expresses “deep concern at the manner in which the COVID-19 pandemic is continuing to impact economies, lives and livelihoods worldwide.”

Drawing on the experience of LWF’s member churches, as well as its development and humanitarian programs worldwide, Junge highlights the “devastating effect” of the coronavirus pandemic among people and communities in developing countries. The inability of their economies and public health systems to cope with the pandemic “has been exacerbated by their debt to bilateral and multilateral creditors, of which the World Band and the International Monetary Fund are among the most important ones,” he says.

Leave no one behind

Echoing appeals from other faith-based and civil society organizations, the Lutheran leader calls on these two institutions to cancel the debt owed to them by developing countries. “I urge you to make this an outcome of your meeting starting on 12 October,” he says, referring to their joint annual weeklong meeting which will be held virtually this year because of the pandemic.

Junge says: “There is a moral and an ethical imperative to support the united efforts against COVID-19 and ensure that no one is left behind. Your institutions can play a vital role here.” He insists that only debt cancellation and not further loans “will bring about the long-term positive impact for vulnerable people and nations.”

I pledge the Lutheran World Federation’s continued work with its local members and civil society advocating towards local governments for good governance and accountability.
LWF General Secretary, Rev. Dr Martin Junge

At the same time, Junge pledges the LWF’s “continued work with its local members and civil society advocating towards local governments for good governance and accountability” to ensure access to health and education for all. “Let us join hand,” he concludes, “in leaving no one behind.”

Read the statement


The LWF has long championed the cancellation of international debt, in particular illegitimate or illegal debts that continue to cripple the economies of developing countries. Please click here to see a recent ecumenical statement on The Economy of Life.