The Odious Debt Doctrine After Iraq

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Law and Contemporary Problems, Vol. 70:139
The odious debt doctrine has experienced renewed popularity in the past few years; it has been heralded by academics, political commentators, economists, and politicians as a mechanism to alleviate burdens imposed by illegitimate rulers. In its classic formulation, the doctrine provides that a regime’s debt is odious, and thus unenforceable, if the state’s people did not consent to the debt, the proceeds from the debt were not used for the benefit of the people, and the regime’s creditors had knowledge of the first two conditions. Scholars and policy makers have made advances in defining the doctrine and proposing mechanisms for its application to real-world problems, and there are now several leading theories on how the doctrine could be implemented. To date, however, it is not clear how much traction, if any, the doctrine has gained in the real world.
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