Campaigners against world poverty have sent a letter to EU leaders in a last-ditch attempt to change the law and tackle corruption. Micah Challenge, Mission-Net, Tearfund, EXPOSED, the World Evangelical Alliance and dozens of denominations hope to ‘Shine a Light on Corruption’ and help the lives of the world’s poor by persuading MEPs and EU decision makers to change laws on how energy firms use their profits.
They have written a letter demanding that the EU pass strong laws requiring oil, gas and mining companies listed on European Stock Exchanges to have to publish what they pay to governments for access to these resources. Currently the lack of legislation is leading to corruption which means residents in poverty-stricken nations lose vital revenue.
Some 3.5 billion people live in countries which are rich in oil, gas and mineral resources but, tragically, money from these areas often doesn’t benefit the poor communities which live nearby. Campaigners believe that if all payments were made public, revenue would be sufficient to meet the Millennium Development Goals and provide everyone living with HIV with vital drugs for over 30 years. The co-signed letter has gone to MEPs as they prepare to vote on the issue.
Joel Edwards, the International Director of Micah Challenge, said: “It is crucial that EU leaders understand their responsibility to ensure corruption does not worsen the lives of millions of poor people across the globe. As Christians, churches and organisations we intend to remind world leaders that their decisions are crucial to help the lives of the world's most vulnerable and desperate people. This is one such issue where the decision of EU leaders really matters to the plight of the poor. They have to make the right decision on this."
Campaigning on the issue began with over 1,500 young Christians from across Europe taking action at the Mission-Net Conference in December 2011. Then in March, delegates to Brussels gave 10,000 messages via postcards to EU leaders in Brussels. Since January, local churches in Denmark, Germany, UK, France, Portugal, Austria, Ireland, Finland and the Netherlands have supported the campaign.
The EU legislation is currently being discussed by committees in the European Parliament and a vote is due in the weeks to come. If passed the legislation would increase transparency and accountability, and allow civil society organisations and local churches in the developing world to hold their governments to account, and ensure the revenue is being spent on helping to achieve the MDGs.
Secrecy and corruption across the world often results in wealth going missing and not benefiting the citizens. Every second €3,600 is lost due to corruption in Africa alone. This is money that should be spent on providing basic services that would help to lift the world’s poorest people out of poverty.
Micah Challenge (MC), an initiative of the World Evangelical alliance, is a global movement to encourage deeper Christian commitment to the poor and hold governments to account for their pledge to halve extreme poverty by 2015. MC aims to be a global voice on poverty for Christians, encouraging them to learn about the issues, find ways to reach out and help the poor, and to fight for justice. For more information, go to: www.micahchallenge.org.