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The Third World's Odious Debt
The South makes compelling moral arguments to cancel its foreign debts. But, it also has an indisputable legal case because the overwhelming majority of those debts are odious in law.
"If a despotic power incurs a debt not for the needs or in the interest of the State, but to strengthen its despotic regime, to repress the population that fights against it, etc., this debt is odious for the population of all the State."
- Alexander Sack, 1927
In 1927, Alexander Sack the world's pre-eminent legal scholar on public debts, defined the Doctrine of Odious Debts, which remains the ultimate legal source on that subject. The Doctrine of Odious Debts, though now 70 years old, helps bring clarity to today's complicated Third World debt situation, and fairness to a tragedy in which innocent Southern citizens pay, and corrupt and negligent borrowers and lenders get away scot-free.

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Latest News

  • Ecuador's default  by Odious Debts Online 
    Audit findings prompt refusal to pay 'illegitimate' debt. December 12/2008
  • Debt cancellation a victory for the world  by Desmond Tutu
    "Much of this debt originates from loans made to corrupt and oppressive regimes that did not benefit the population." The Baltimore Sun  May 7/2008
  • Chad's checkmate
    World bank system to safeguard oil revenues "hasn't exactly worked as expected." Odious Debts Online   March 26/2008
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    Featured News

  • Acres' Lesotho woes continue  by John Saunders
    Acres International Ltd., already convicted in an African bribery case, could be barred from World Bank-financed projects for corruption, the bank confirmed yesterday. It would be the first major international engineering firm to suffer that shame. The Globe and Mail (Canada)  March 16/2004

  • Cancel Iraq's odious debts first, donors conference told
    Debt relief groups have urged Iraq's debtors to adhere to a 100-year-old legal principle to resolve Iraq's debt crisis and assist reconstruction efforts when they meet tomorrow in Madrid. October 22/2003

  • Debt forgiveness  by Patricia Adams
    Taking Iraq's debts to the Paris Club without establishing their legitimacy would be a grave mistake. The Paris Club, which uses western taxpayer dollars to rescue misplaced loans by public lenders, has long been the world's premier bailout agency. National Post, Canada  June 26/2003

    Featured Reports

  • Oral statement to the US Senate Committee on Foreign Relations  by Patricia Adams
    Multilateral development banks should follow the principles in the US Foreign Corrupt Practices Act and debar a company or individual under investigation or after indictment, until its innocence is established. October 29/2004

  • The oil-for-food scandal: next steps for Congress  by Nile Gardiner, James Phillips and James Dean
    The oil-for-food fraud is potentially the biggest scandal in the history of the United Nations and one of the greatest financial scandals of modern times. The Heritage Foundation [PDF file]  June 30/2004

  • An ounce of prevention: G8 policy failures on conflict  by Don Brandt and Matthew J.O. Scott
    This report shows the accumulated debt of 16 of the world's worst war-torn countries could be wiped away for less than planned debt relief for one country: Iraq. World Vision  June 10/2004


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