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IEL Collective researchers support call to suspend debt service for indebted countries to free up resources to fight Covid-19

Dr Stephen Connelly (Associate Professor in Law) and Dr Celine Tan (Reader in Law), Co-Directors of the Centre for the Law, Regulation and Governance of the Global Economy (GLOBE Centre) at the Warwick Law School are supporting civil society groups, led by Jubilee Debt Campaign UK and Oxfam GB, in proposing legislation in the UK that will have the effect of suspending debt owed to private creditors of countries eligible for the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI).

The DSSI commits G20 and Paris Club official creditors to a time-bound suspension of debt service for eligible countries that request such forbearance in order to free up resources for low-income countries to support health, humanitarian and social and economic measures during the COVID-19 pandemic. The aim of this proposal is to give legislative effect to the commitment made by private creditors for voluntary debt service suspension that mirrors the G20 deal.

Dr Connelly and Dr Tan, are working with Karina Patricio Ferreira Lima (Durham Law School) and Chris Tassis (Warwick Law School) under the auspices of the recently formed The IEL Collective Law and Finance Working Group to develop mechanisms for managing the sovereign debt of low and middle-income countries to meet the economic and financial challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr Connelly explains: "Under this legislative proposal, private creditors holding English law bonds issued by a qualifying country will be barred from pursuing legal or arbitral proceedings, including enforcement proceedings, against that qualifying country in any court of the United Kingdom during a determinate moratorium period. The current proposal is time-bound, does not interfere with the underlying contractual rights of parties to the contract and is contingent on the country subject to such claims to make such a request of suspension to the court.”

Dr Tan adds: "Enshrining a standstill in law will demonstrate UK’s leadership in global COVID-19 responses and reinforce its commitment to ensuring low-income countries have access to all the financial resources they need to contain COVID-19 and recover from this unprecedented health, social and economic crisis. It is recognised that the current proposal is limited in resolving the longer-term debt burden of developing countries, but it is hoped that it will serve as an emergency measure to enable breathing space for countries while more comprehensive and sustainable mechanisms are being developed."

Dr Connelly and Dr Tan have previously worked with JDC and with Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, the former UN Special Rapporteur on Foreign Debt and Human Rights on issues relating to sovereign debt and financing for developing countries.

Visit the GLOBE Centre Briefing Note and the proposal briefing for further details on their proposal.

Thu 30 Jul 2020, 07:55