Iraq's Odious Debts

Letters to the Editor: How to establish criteria for debt

Chris Gilbert
The Financial Times, UK
June 23, 2003


In your editorial “Iraq’s debt” (June 16), you assert that using the notion of “odious debt” – debt incurred by an illegitimate government – as a basis for cancelling debt is unworkable because it is too difficult to determine when a government is illegitimate. And, yet, there are criteria regularly used to determine this type of thing; for example, whether elections are fair. Of course, there would need to be an international body that would weigh the evidence and pronounce judgment; but there are already financial bodies that determine credit ratings based on other criteria, more or less successfully. Why not add “legitimacy” or “democracy” criteria?

Chris Gilbert, Berkeley, CA 94707 US

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