Odious Debts Online
December 28, 2007
The popular German grassroots Jubilee movement Erlassjahr.de has dismissed the World Bank paper on odious debts as biased and flawed. Source The first detailed treatment of the Bank’s recent paper, shows that the Bank by ignoring odious debt concepts and references developed by Alexander Sack and contemporary legal scholars has managed to paint a “pitiful picture” of apparently contradictory odious debt definitions. Author Jurgen Kaiser in his critique for Erlassjahr.de, says the Bank also ignores juridical instruments, misrepresents contemporary legal scholars’ analysis, asserts arguments without foundation and, in general, lacks the analytical precision that distinguishes the work of NGOs and academic proponents of the OD doctrine.
None of this surprises Mr. Kaiser. When confronted with an unwelcome issue, like odious debts, he says, the Bank will either dismiss the issue as irrelevant or “try to spearhead the debate and make sure it is channeled towards the Bank’s own interests.” Indeed, this is not the first time that the World Bank has tried “to sell itself as the best solution to a global financial problem,” he adds, but it has “seldom happened with such a high degree of effrontery.” The Bank patronizingly proposes that the best way to deal with the “laudable,” but naive, intentions of OD proponents is rather to back the Bank’s efforts to reduce debt through debt forgiveness which, in effect, destroys evidence of malfeasance and recklessness. But ignoring the root of the problem, as the Bank would prefer, says Mr. Kaiser, is so ridiculous that it cannot be taken seriously.
Erlassjahr.de holds out hope that the “Knowledge Bank,” as the World Bank likes to fashion itself, may yet listen and learn. After all, it reversed its 1990s policy that all multilateral debts must be paid to its new millennium policy of large scale relief for its debtors. At ODO, we think that is faint hope indeed, because the first defendant to take the stand in odious debts legal proceedings, should that day come to pass, would likely be the World Bank itself. And that is what the Bank is trying to avoid, with its ham- fisted dismissal of this growing legal case against odious debts.
Categories: Odious Debts