Tuesday, March 11. Geneva.
Cephas Lumina, the “Independent Expert on the 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,” reported to the Twenty-fifth session of the Human Rights Council. He warned States that demands to repay sovereign debt can result in human rights violations by forcing debtor states to curtail economic programs that particularly affect the poor and other vulnerable citizens.
He focused on Greece, and recommended that “lenders should revisit their policies,” and on Argentina, where he said a military dictatorship had run-up debt. He contended that those who lend to such military dictatorships need to “accept part of the responsibility” for solving the problems caused by their borrowing. The Argentine delegation complained of the “predatory behavior” of “vulture funds.”
Mr. Lumina referred to the UN’s Vienna Declaration on Human Rights, which called upon States to remove obstacles to the enjoyment of human rights, stressing that debt burdens are a threat to realizing economic and social rights. In previous decades, by using the rhetoric of the “Right to Development” and the “indivisibility of human rights”, numerous Third World states argued that without foreign financial assistance, they could not guarantee their citizens human rights.
A long list of debtor states took the floor to insist that debt forgiveness was a human rights issue and suggesting that a failure to forgive debt implicated lenders in the violation of human rights.
(Image of “Twenty years of debt relief: The debt spiral continues” – http://www.alliancesud.ch/en/policy/finances/twenty-years-of-debt-relief)