UNCTAD has advocated, for many decades, for a multilateral legal framework to facilitate effective and fair sovereign debt restructurings.
From its inception in 1964, UNCTAD Ministerial Conferences placed core emphasis on developing country debt and debt service problems (e.g. resolution A.IV.5 (1964)
In 1975, resolution 132 (XV) of UNCTAD’s Governing Body, the Trade and Development Board (TDB), authorized its Secretary-General to provide appropriate assistance to debtor countries in relation to the holding of ad hoc meetings to examine debtor country requirements prior to debt re-negotiations, as well as its Secretariat to participate in debt renegotiation meetings organized by the Paris Club on the same basis as other international organizations, establishing UNCTAD to this day as the principal UN body interacting with the Paris Club. In 1977, UNCTAD called for explicit principles for sovereign debt rescheduling (resolution TD/AC 2/9) and, three years later, resolution 222 (XXI) of the TDB agreed "Detailed Features for Future Operations Relating to the Debt Problems of Interested Developing Countries". Subsequent core documents – including regular analyses in UNCTAD’s flagship annual report, the Trade and Development, and Reports by the UN Secretary-General on external debt sustainability in developing countries to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), prepared by UNCTAD since the early 1990s – continued to engage with in-depth policy-oriented research and analysis of evolving sovereign debt crisis in developing countries.
In 2015, the UNCTAD Secretariat was therefore called upon to provide support to its Ad Hoc Committee, set up by the United Nations General Assembly in its resolution A/RES/69/247, with a mandate to elaborate through a process of intergovernmental negotiations a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes. The work of the Ad Hoc Committee resulted in resolutionA/RES/69/319 on Basic Principles of Sovereign Debt Restructuring Processes, adopted by the UN National Assembly in September 2015.
Background and discussion papers
- Goldmann, Matthias, "Necessity and Feasibility of a Standstill Rule for Sovereign Debt Workouts," January 2014
- Bohoslavsky, Juan Pablo, "Towards a multilateral legal framework for debt restructuring: Six human rights benchmarks States should consider", January 2015.
- Lienau,Odette,"Legitimacy and Impartiality in Sovereign Debt Workout Mechanism," July 2014.
- Goldmann, Matthias "Necessity and Feasibility of a Standstill Rule for Sovereign Debt Workouts," First Session of the UNCTAD Working Group on a Debt Workout Mechanism, 2014
- Riegner, Michael, "Legal frameworks and general principles for indicators in sovereign debt restructuring," Third Session of the UNCTAD Working Group on a Debt Workout Mechanism, 2014
- Goldmann, Matthias, "Good Faith and Transparency in Sovereign Debt Workout?", Second Session of the UNCTAD Working Group on a Debt Workout Mechanism, 2014?