According to a top official in the Clinton Administration, the 1999
Enhanced Heavily Indebted Poor Countries Initiative, set forth by the
world's Group of Seven (G7) leading industrialized nations in Cologne,
Germany in June 1999, would have "an enormous impact on poorer
countries, perhaps more than any other single action taken by the
developed countries at any time." A United Nations Special Rapporteur
on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of economic, social,
and cultural rights and an independent expert on structural adjustment
had a markedly different opinion of the same initiative: "As it stands
now, [this] initiative is grossly inadequate.. . ."- Despite their sharply
contrasting views, these commentators would doubtless all agree on the
gravity of the subject of the initiative: the large debts that many
impoverished developing countries owe to wealthy countries and
international financial institutions (IFIs).
Indeed, while the world's poorest countries spend tens to hundreds
of millions of dollars-and in several cases, over one billion dollarsannually
servicing their debts, large segments of their populations
remain without access to minimal health care, education, nutrition,
clean water, adequate shelter, and other human needs. Under the
International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
(ICESCR), States Parties are legally obligated to guarantee access to
minimum essential levels of these basic human rights, and to use all
available resources to progressively achieve full enjoyment of such
rights for all. By continuing to insist that poor States use their scarce
resources for debt service payments, rather than for improved access to
health care, education, food, and basic shelter for their impoverished
populations, the international community becomes complicit in the
wide-scale violation of human rights.
Friedman, Eric A.
"Debt Relief in 1999: Only One Step on a Long Journey,"
Yale Human Rights and Development Journal:
1, Article 5.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.law.yale.edu/yhrdlj/vol3/iss1/5