UN Wrestles With Argentina's Sovereign Debt

UN Wrestles With Argentina's Sovereign Debt

Original news:

The United Nations General Assembly voted in favour of a legal framework to help regulate restructuring of foreign sovereign debt on 9 September 2014. The project was suggested by the Argentine Government.

Giuseppe Bianco, PhD fellow in international economic law at the Universities of Oslo and Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, assesses the situation for the Restructuring & Insolvency PSL team at Lexis Nexis.

What is the UN's proposal and what is the legal effect of a UN resolution?

The General Assembly, comprising all the member states of the United Nations, adopted by majority a resolution on 9 September 2014 in New York. In essence, the proposal is to launch negotiations to create a multilateral legal framework for sovereign debt restructuring processes. The intergovernmental negotiations will be a priority for the sixty-ninth session of the Assembly, from September 2014 to September 2015.

Resolutions adopted by the General Assembly in themselves do not generally create legal obligations binding on UN member states. Resolutions on internal and budgetary matters, however, are binding.

What problems has the Argentinian sovereign debt issue highlighted with the existing regime?

The default by Argentina on its sovereign debt in December 2001 has highlighted all the problems of the current regime. There is no pre-established framework or forum a debtor in need can resort to. Today sovereign debt is mostly held by hundreds of thousands of dispersed private bondholders, with different interests--finding an agreement with them is very complicated. Furthermore, some hedge funds (the so-called 'vultures') purchase sovereign bonds at discounted rates, refuse to agree to the restructuring and sue the debtor to obtain full repayment of capital and interests. Litigation ensues in a host of domestic and international jurisdictions. A domestic judge's innovative interpretation of a contract clause for

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