From a humanitarian perspective, few international policy proposals appear more compelling than debt relief for the world's poor. The poorest countries have seen their external debts spiral to the point where interest payments are crowding out desperately needed investments in roads, schools, sanitation, health care, and other social services. The majority of their people live below the poverty line, struggling to survive on a dollar or two a day. Average life expectancy is well below 60 years and declining in many countries because of AIDS. Lacking access to safe drinking water, preventive medicine, and basic education, as well as to markets, credit, and justice, people live needlessly short and degrading lives.