From 1999-2003, the IMF found that 56 countries were in arrears on their foreign debt or had rescheduled their debt servicing obligations.
Many developing countries suffer repeated debt crises, and although government borrowing is not in itself a matter of ethical concern, it becomes an ethical issue when crushing debt limits a government's capacity to provide social services necessary for its citizens' well-being, and diverts resources and energy from the pursuit of long-term development strategies.
What can and should be done? In this important new volume, Dealing Fairly with Developing Country Debt, philosophers, theologians, lawyers and economists examine questions related to how to deal fairly with the over-indebted governments of developing countries.
These questions include: How do you balance obligations to repay a debt with potentially worsening poverty in the debtor country? Should creditors be held accountable—and if so, how—for loans to governments that are not even minimally representative of their people's interests? Are there reforms to the practices governing sovereign borrowing and lending to sovereigns that would increase fairness in how the world treats developing countries with debt difficulties?
This is a major contribution to the literature on debt problems of developing countries, in terms of assessing the fairness of the causes and effects of excessive indebtedness and in designing their appropriate solutions. It goes beyond the market economics of costs and serviceability of the debts, and proposals for their restructuring to make them payable. It deals with issues of national responsibility and international obligations of sharing the burden of adjustment, fairly and equitably, to take care of the plight of the poor who are often the unintended victims of the crisis. In many ways, the book brings a breath of fresh air to the vast literature on sovereign indebtedness."
—Arjun K. Sengupta, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Chairman, Centre for Development and Human Rights, New Delhi
Published by Blackwell Publishing for the Carnegie Council, this book grew out the Ethics and Debt project, run jointly with the New School University's Graduate Program in International Affairs, and with additional financial support from the Ford Foundation.
The project also resulted in a special Ethics & International Affairs issue on the ethics of sovereign debt, Volume 21. (Spring 2007).