9th CADTM International Seminar: Debt and human rights: what are the obligations of creditor states and International financial Institutions?

6 December 2010

Cephas Lumina, UN independent expert on the external debt of developing countries, should participate to the international Seminar, but a few days before he had to cancel his coming. However, he send us the following statement:

"I regret that I am unable to join you at this important conference. The theme of the conference (Debt and Human Rights) is a timely reminder of the privation that high foreign debt burdens occasion to millions around the world.

There are some who contend, incorrectly in my view, that excessive debt is not a human rights issue. As the Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action underscores, the promotion and protection of human rights requires a holistic approach. In other words, it is critical that we address the causes of and context within which human rights violations occur if we are to ensure the full realization of human rights.
The diversion of scarce funds from programmes designed to provide basic social services such as education and health, to servicing debt, the principal amount of which has, in many cases, already been paid off, places many developing countries in a position that they are unable to fulfil their human rights obligations, particularly those relating to economic, social and cultural rights.
In recent years, many countries have gone through the creditor managed multilateral debt relief initiatives that have provided some fiscal space for them to implement some social programmes. However, these initiatives are fraught with problems and do not appear to have offered a permanent exit from the debt problem.

Additionally, the little that has been offered by way of relief has been diluted or remains under threat from the activities of unscrupulous secondary debt market participants, commonly termed “vulture funds Vulture funds
Vulture fund
Investment funds who buy, on the secondary markets and at a significant discount, bonds once emitted by countries that are having repayment difficulties, from investors who prefer to cut their losses and take what price they can get in order to unload the risk from their books. The Vulture Funds then pursue the issuing country for the full amount of the debt they have purchased, not hesitating to seek decisions before, usually, British or US courts where the law is favourable to creditors.
”. These unethical commercial entities have no useful role to play in the global financial system and must be outlawed. It is incumbent upon every country, particularly creditor countries that are the preferred jurisdictions of vulture funds, to take robust legislative measures to curb the activities of these predators.

As civil society actors, you are well placed to advocate for such measures.
I hope that policy makers concerned with debt and human rights will take note of the outcomes of this conference.

I wish you the best in your discussions and I look forward to working with you to find a durable solution to the debt problem."
Statement of Dr Cephas Lumina, United Nations Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights


Olga Zrihen, MP (PS)

Renaud Vivien, CADTM Belgium

Olga Zrihen

 Debt of developing countries: what consequences for human rights?

Éric Toussaint

Banque mondiale / FMI et droits humains, par Eric Toussaint


 Auditing the debt, an internationally acknowledged human right that Belgium violates?

Maria Lucia Fatorelli,coordinator of the citizen audit of the debt in Brazil
Juliette Boulet,MP (ECOLO)

L’audit de la dette, un droit humain reconnu au niveau international, violé en Belgique?, par Juliette Boulet

DEBT AUDITING: The alternative to the crisis, by Maria Lucia Fatorelli


 Can IFIs be sued? Case studies

Koen De Feyter, Professor of International Law (Antwerp University)
Luc Mukendi, CADTM Lubumbashi

L’implication de la Banque mondiale dans la violation des droits des travailleurs de la Gécamines : L’opération « départs volontaires », par Luc Mukendi

Responsibility and Accountability of International Organisations The case of the World Bank, by Koen De Feyter


 Can a state nullify its public debt?

Abdul Khaliq, CADTM Pakistan
Virginie de Romanet, CADTM Belgium

Un Etat peut-il déclarer la nullité de sa dette?, par Virginie de Romanet


 Vulture funds, Explanation and solutions to neutralize them

Carlo Van Grootel, OpenVLD
Victor Nzuzi, NAD-CADTM Kinshasa

Fonds vautours, par Carlo Van Grootel)


 What are the obligations of the EIB in terms of human rights? Case studies

Desislava Stoyanova, Counterbalance
Bernd Schneider, parliementary assistant (GUE)|
Claude Quémar|



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