Odious Debt Politics

UN imageHuman Rights in Ireland welcomes this guest post from Dr John Reynolds. John is a lecturer in law in NUI Maynooth.

In September 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the ‘establishment of a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes’. This is a global South initiative emanating from experiences of predatory exploitation by the vulture funds of the North, but aimed more broadly at preventing debt crises and financial speculation from undermining socio-economic rights in all indebted nations. As we know, neoliberalism’s unregulated debt system has become increasingly universal in its reach. The resolution was adopted by a decisive majority of the UN’s member states, by a vote of 124 to 11. It builds on work done by UN authorities on conceptions of debt restructuring and illegitimate debt as they relate to the vindication or violation of socio-economic rights. Despite our own harrowing and ongoing debt crisis, Ireland aligned itself with the finance capital centres of the US, Britain, Germany and Japan in voting against the initiative, Continue reading “Odious Debt Politics”

Odious Debt Politics

Thoughts on a New Ireland: Economic Vulnerability and Debt Problems

Human Rights in Ireland is now two years old. To celebrate, we have invited guest posts from a set of scholars from outside ‘the law school’. The theme is “Thoughts on a New Ireland”. As the first of today’s posts, HRinI is very pleased to present this post by Christopher T. Whelan (School of Sociology and Geary Institute, UCD) and Helen Russell and Bernard Maitre (ESRI) .

A frequent refrain, during recent debates relating to the cuts in public expenditure and increased taxation has been the need to “protect the vulnerable”. Where the focus is on particular socio-economic groups, however, there appears to be very little consensus regarding which groups are to be included under this heading. Attention can shift from older people to children, from the low-paid to the unemployed from lone parents to people with a disability. The amount of time each group is on stage appears to be influenced as much by their capacity to mobilise public opinion as the objective merits of their particular case.

If economic vulnerability is understood as involving a high risk profiles over time in relation to poverty, subjective economic stress and, most particularly, exclusion from customary standards of living. Continue reading “Thoughts on a New Ireland: Economic Vulnerability and Debt Problems”

Thoughts on a New Ireland: Economic Vulnerability and Debt Problems