The UN General Assembly demands that debt restructurings respect human rights

The Basic Principles on Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes, promoted by members of the Group of 77 developing countries and China, reflect demands regarding the need to establish fairer and more equitable debt restructuring mechanisms that social organizations have been making since the 1990s.

Principle number 8 recognizes that restructurings must respect human rights and contribute to “sustained and inclusive” economic growth in debtor countries to minimize the economic and social costs of financial crises. This mirrors some of the points that a group of 100 social organizations underscored last year regarding the capacity of States to strike accords with a majority of their creditors that guarantee the economic, social and cultural rights of their populations. We also contended at that time that the resolution of debt-related conflicts between a State and its creditors should be based on Public International Law and International Human Rights Law.

These basic principles, approved yesterday by the UN General Assembly, represent a very significant first step in the negotiations to establish a new legal framework that is multilateral and binding to regulate sovereign debt restructuring processes in a way that is compatible with human rights obligations and standards. CELS and other allied organizations will continue to demand reform of the global financial system to prohibit the predatory practices of a handful of creditors, who get rich at the expense of our communities.

For more information on this topic (in Spanish), see the chapter in CELS’ 2015 Annual Report on “Human rights, national development and sovereign debt.”

Source: Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales.