Journalists tracking the recent agreement by eight nations to cancel $40 billion in debt owed by 18 of the world´s poorest countries - 14 of them African -- may wish to follow UNCTAD´s Fifth Interregional Conference on Debt Management, to be held in Geneva from 20 to 24 June. The conference will take place two weeks before the G-8 summit in Scotland at which debt relief and major increases in aid to Africa will be discussed. The Geneva meeting will focus on management of debt burdens, on the long-term sustainability of external debt, on the extent to which debt relief addresses or does not address development prospects in these countries, and on how much such nations should reasonably borrow. Numerous experts will be available for interviews. Plenary meetings on Monday (20 June) and Wednesday (22 June) will be open to the press, and interviews may be arranged through the UNCTAD Press Office.
The conference will include the third and final round of the multi-stakeholder consultations on "sovereign debt for sustained development" organized by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) as a follow-up to the Monterrey Consensus of 2002. See http://www.un.org/esa/ffd.
Issues on the week´s agenda include relations between debtors and creditors; practical ways to contain risk and reduce uncertainty; information and transparency; relations between debt managers and policy makers; recent experiences in setting up national debt offices; the changing role of the debt manager; and debt crisis management. Country "cases" will be reviewed, including those of Argentina, Iraq, Nigeria, Mexico and Panama. Ninety countries will be represented.
Speakers (or moderators) will include Iraq´s Central Bank Governor, the heads of the Argentinean and Nigerian Debt Offices, the head of Mexico´s Investor Relations (for the Ministry of Finance), the head of the African Forum and Network on Debt and Development (AFRODAD), the Paris Club Secretary-General, Jubilee Peru, Transparency International, as well as senior staff from the IMF and the World Bank dealing with debt issues.
No negotiated outcome will be sought, but a report of the multi-stakeholder consultations on debt will be submitted to the UN General Assembly, along with the results of other consultations in the series undertaken in 2004-2005. An issues paper on sovereign debt for sustained development prepared by DESA in cooperation with UNCTAD, the IMF and the World Bank serves as a background paper for the consultations. This paper, the conference agenda, the list of participants and other relevant materials will be available today in the press room at the Palais des Nations. Information is also available on the website of UNCTAD´s Debt Management-DMFAS Programme, www.unctad.org/dmfas
Two other meetings on debt issues will take place at the end of the week - the Fourth Meeting of the DMFAS advisory group on 23 June (Thursday), which will review the activities of UNCTAD´s Debt Management Programme (DMFAS) and the Fourth Conference and General Assembly of the World Association of Debt Management Offices (WADMO) on 24 June (Friday).