The Sovereign Debt Workout Debate – where are we in the process?
On 19 and 20 July, representatives of several European and African non-governmental organisations (NGOs) came together in Hanover for a seminar with the subject ‘The Sovereign Debt Workout Debate – where are we in the process?’, to get a clearer idea about the current status of the debate on a sovereign debt resolution mechanism (SDRM) and to speak about resulting strategies and goals for the movement.
The participating organisations were a colourful mix from the debt movement, some were big and very active networks or organisations, but there were also others that are just starting their work on sovereign debt.
History and features of SDRM
Thus, Thursday was mainly about getting everyone up to date: Jürgen Kaiser (erlassjahr.de / Jubilee Germany) and Bodo Ellmers (EURODAD) took the participants through achievements and events from 20 years of advocacy and educational work for a SDRM. This was especially fruitful and informative for those who were relatively new in the field.
After a short coffee break, Matthias Goldmann, professor of Law at the Goethe-university in Frankfurt, was invited to explain to the participants what legal basis and institutional aspects a SDRM would need. His talk was very detailed, which made it, and also the discussion afterwards, extremely informative for everyone in the room. The question of what an institution that surveils and leads such a procedure could look like especially intrigued the participants.
After this input, the participants tried to identify those instruments and tools out of several interesting and exciting options that could potentially be politically acted upon; in other words: they discussed what the most important elements of a SDRM would be. At this point, everybody agreed that there are lots of details that have to be discussed further since there is quite some disagreement on a lot of them, even though everybody has a common basic idea.
Is SDRM still a priority?
After dinner, erlassjahr.de’s staff presented the results of a questionnaire sent to people in the movement before the seminar that focused on whether a SDRM was useful, understandable, desirable and still a priority. As a result, the participants discussed passionately how to best communicate the very complex topic of a SDRM to people that are not as involved in the debates as the participants of the seminar and to arouse their interest.
The prospect of ‘stories of hope’ was discussed intensely: studies show that people always need a bit of hope to engage and become involved in issues. This hope has to be part of the stories told by the movement otherwise they only provoke resignation.
Looking ahead: Next steps
On Friday, the focus shifted towards the future as well as to the next steps and so, in the morning, the participants tried to figure out what these next steps might actually be.
At first, the participants identified obstacles and opportunities and mapped them into a power and interest matrix as well as supporters and enemies and attributed effort and impact that go along with working on them, respectively. One group specifically looked at the national context, the other one did the same, only on an international level.
The results were four post-it-packed wallpapers that were relevant for the next unit in which all the participants thought about what points from the wallpapers they might have not regarded enough in their organisations’ work but that could maybe become part of it in the future. Soon it was obvious that the organisations let themselves be inspired by the post-its and can hopefully soon extend their range of activities.
In the end it was decided that this event should be repeated sometime in the next months. Until then, however, there’s the search for a new name for what is currently called ‘SDRM’ on the agenda. The participants wanted to have a catchier term in advocacy and educational work than the current bulky one.
All in all the participants were very satisfied and felt that they learned something new and were part of a network now, which were two of the central goals of this seminar.
The motivation and willingness to carry on the sovereign debt movement and to continue with the contents of the seminar are there!