U.S. EOV on Foreign Debt as a Human Rights Problem

EOV by the United States of America

Mandate of the independent expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights

UN Human Rights Council – 16th Session

Geneva
March 23, 2011

Thank you, Mr. President.

The United States has long recognized the potentially harmful effects that excessive debt burdens can have on developing countries, especially Heavily Indebted Poor Countries. As such, debt relief continues to be an essential part of the United States’ foreign aid program. The United States has been a major advocate for debt-forgiveness programs and a strong proponent of many grant programs that do not add to the debt burden of developing nations. We encourage other creditor states to participate in debt relief in a manner that recognizes comparability of treatment.

However, we continue to believe that it is incorrect to treat the issue of foreign debt as a human rights problem to be addressed by this Council. Rules other than human rights law are most relevant to the contractual arrangements between States and lenders. There are other international fora which are much better equipped to deal with the questions of foreign debt and debt forgiveness, which are principally economic and technical in nature.

Unfortunately, continuing the mandate of the independent expert does not simply further the inappropriate treatment of this important issue as a human rights problem. It also diverts the focus and finances of this Council away from serious human rights issues that more urgently require our attention. Given the Human Rights Council’s lack of technical competency on this subject, we regret that resources continue to be allocated of to this subject. The Council’s limited time and resources should be deployed in other, more appropriate and effective ways.

We therefore must vote against this resolution.

Thank you, Mr. President.