Odious Debts

Legal scholars to hold another public debate on odious debt

February 7, 2007

In an unprecedented run of public debate on the issue of odious debts, North Carolina will again serve as the setting for a second conference on odious debt. Last month, North Carolina’s Duke Law School hosted the first-ever conference on odious debt law and economics – a groundbreaking, one day scholarly discussion and critical analysis of odious debt. We are delighted to announce that this weekend The North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation and the University of North Carolina School of Law will sponsor the second groundbreaking symposium on odious debt in a month.

About the symposium

Entitled, “Odious Debt: Exploring the Outer Limits of Sovereign Debt,” the symposium will explore whether sovereign debtors can and should refuse to repay some of their obligations as “illegitimate” or inequitable. In particular, the symposium will address the practical challenges for any attempt to repudiate sovereign obligations pursuant to a doctrine of odious debts or any alternative mechanism. Participants will consider a variety of issues, including: how and when disputes over repudiation of sovereign debt might arise; what actors might have standing to assert relevant claims or defenses; whether affirmative claims might be brought against non-sovereign parties (e.g., creditors); what venues might be more or less suitable for raising and evaluating the merits of such claims and; what countervailing legal rules or doctrines might prove to be significant obstacles to the repudiation of sovereign obligations. The symposium will also explore the potential consequences of the successful operation of any odious debt mechanism (e.g., how repudiation of sovereign obligations would affect capital markets), and it will also consider political and other practical challenges to creating new international legal institutional structures (e.g., tribunals) for addressing odious debt claims.

The topic of the symposium has, in recent weeks, become increasingly timely. Newly elected officials of Ecuador have suggested in recent days that they might soon repudiate some of their financial obligations as illegitimate. The country has a payment due to creditors on Feb.15. If the country does repudiate any obligations as illegitimate or odious, it will be one of the first times (if not the first) that a sovereign has done so.

Participants in the symposium include Sean Hagan, general counsel of the International Monetary Fund; Lee Buchheit and Andrew Yanni, both leading practitioners in the field of sovereign debt restructuring; Takehiro Nobumori, from the the Bank of Japan; Barry Herman, a leader in the field of international economic development; Jonathan Shafter, an international lawyer and prominent author on the topic of odious debt; and a number of respected legal scholars from around the nation.

The Schedule

8:30 – 9:00 a.m.
Registration/Continental Breakfast (Room 5048)

9:00 – 9:15 a.m.
Opening Remarks (Room 5052)
Jack Boger, Dean of UNC School of Law

9:15 – 9:30 a.m.
Introduction to the Symposium
Adam Feibelman, UNC School of Law

9:30 – 10:00 a.m.
Commentary: Themes of the Odious Debt Debate
Lee Buchheit, Cleary Gottlieb, Washington D.C.

10:00 – 12:15 p.m.

Panel I:
Takehiro Nobumori, Bank of Japan
Mitu Gulati, Duke Law School
Jonathan Shafter, Boston Provident, New York City
Karen Halverson Cross, John Marshall Law School

12:30 – 1:45 p.m.
Lunchtime Address
Sean Hagan, General Counsel, IMF

2:00 – 4:15 p.m.

Panel II:

Moderator, A. Mark Weisburd, UNC School of Law
Andrew Yianni, Clifford Chance, London
Deborah Weissman, UNC School of Law
Louis Pérez, UNC Department of History
Barry Herman, The New School
Anita Ramasastry, University of Washington School of Law

More information about the North Carolina Journal of International Law and Commercial Regulation can be found at http://www.unc.edu/ncilj/. More information about the symposium can be found using the following links: Schedule of Events
Symposium Brochure and Registration Form
For more information or to register via e-mail, please contact Kelly Atkinson, Symposium Editor, at klatkins@email.unc.edu.


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