Odious Debts Online
October 26, 2007
The World Bank should conduct a “full, independent peer review” on the odious debts discussion paper it released last month, say an alliance of civil society NGOs that includes Eurodad and the Jubilee Debt Campaign. The alliance, in a letter sent to the bank in early October, call the paper “far below what is needed” and argue not only that the paper is one-sided, but that it is missing significant sources and arguments. It further states that the paper is “largely dismissive of the concept of odious debt” and “omits important cases where the concept has been recognized.”
The World Bank responded to the criticisms in a letter providing an explanation of its review policy. The policy requires work to be looked at by three peer reviewers, one of whom should be external, it stated, “Not only were these procedures followed for this paper, they were exceeded: the first draft was circulated to several highly qualified legal experts from outside the World Bank, and their comments have been incorporated in the draft currently on our website.”
Probe International Director, Patricia Adams, also cites major problems with the World Bank paper in her recent review, saying that the “paper is not a serious treatment of the rigorous scholarly debate now occurring over the concept of odious debts.”
The bank also reiterated an earlier statement that the paper is a work in progress adding that the draft was posted online for comment in the hopes that it could be improved. Though the authors of the paper are not disclosed, comments should be directed to Vikram Nehru, director of the Economic Policy and Debt Department.
The paper, funded by the Norwegian Government, is the first time the World Bank has formally acknowledged the legal concept of odious debts.
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