Foreign Debt: Moving Toward a Multilateral framework that Respects Human Rights

Publish Date: 
Friday, September 26, 2014

The Human Rights Council adopted on September 26, by a wide margin, the resolution Effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights: the activities of vulture funds. Among other things, the Resolution calls upon all States to actively participate in the negotiations aimed at establishing a new multilateral regulatory framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes compatible with human rights obligations and standards.

In this regard, the Resolution reflects the perspective expressed by one hundred social organizations, which emphasized that States must ensure that their foreign debt obligations do not prompt the adoption of regressive measures that hinder the advancement of human rights. The settlement of debt disputes between a State and its creditors should be based on a framework rooted in International Public Law and Human Rights Law, as the only path to ensuring that sovereign economic policy decisions do not adversely impact on the full enjoyment of all human rights.

The Center of Concern, the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) applaud the decision of the Human Rights Council on the regulation of sovereign debt. Taking into consideration the Guiding Principles on Sovereign Debt and Human Rights, they applaud that the Council made a firm pronouncement on this issue once again. At the same time, they praise the launching of a negotiation process toward a binding legal regulatory framework, which was recently approved by the UN General Assembly in New York. These negotiations give State representatives an opportunity to correct a deficiency in the international financial system that currently ignores the fulfillment of human rights obligations. In accordance with the mandate foreseen in the Council’s Resolution, they urge States to ensure that a human rights perspective is fully incorporated into the deliberations on a multilateral regulatory framework and in the final text that is ultimately adopted.

The Center of Concern, the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) and the Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR) are committed to following this process closely, along with other social organizations. They hope that progress on this matter will be a real step forward for the respect, protection and assurance of human rights.