The Debt Burden: An African Perspective

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This article focuses on African debt' crisis, paying particular attention to that portion of debt owed to sovereign wealthy countries and international financial institutions. The crisis is not merely one of macroeconomic indicators, but one also encompassing the political stability of these countries and the human costs of economic policies. For African debtor countries, the debt burden has spawned grave political and social problems.

Part I of this article describes the history and background of the present African debt burden. Part II examines the magnitude of the debt problem and its practical effect on the human rights of the people. Effort will be made to attempt an analysis of the connection between debt, debt relief, and human rights. Any examination of the question of forgiveness or relief of debt owed by African countries would require a discussion of the international law jurisprudence on the matter. Part III of this article shall explore the legal basis for the request for debt forgiveness by African countries. It shall be argued that there is sufficient state practice to support a claim for an emerging international customary law recognizing debt forgiveness in the unique circumstances of the African debt problem. Next, the case will be made for strategies that the wealthy countries and international financial institutions could take to make debt relief meaningful in order to strengthen the human rights of the poor people.


ABA publication. Unable to post article due to copyright restrictions.

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