Legal Scholars Advance the Principle of Odious Debts

Sovereign debt and social rights – legal reflections on a difficult relationship

(January 1, 2008)

Sabine Michalowski
Human Rights Law Review, Volume 8, Number 1
Tuesday, January 1, 2008
The relationship between the sovereign debt of developing countriesand the protection of social rights in those countries has receiveda lot of attention from an economic, political and moral perspective,but relatively little has been written about the legal sideof this relationship.

This article addresses the underlyingissues from three different angles. First of all, it analyseswhat is and could be the role of international social rightsobligations in the context of debt repayment policies and decisions,and how conflicts between social rights protection and contractualrepayment obligations can and should be resolved under internationallaw. A second issue is what the protection of social rightsin national constitutions might add to the discussion, particularlywith regard to the justiciability of social rights. Thirdly,it will be examined whether and how social rights can be usedas a defence in proceedings for debt repayment.

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