Call for Papers: The Ideal of Democracy and the Reality of Sovereign Debt



Event Date: 


Location name: 


In the aftermath of the 2008 bank bailouts, sovereign debt has increased to unprecedented levels. As a result, governments saw their policy room curtailed by the demand for credibility and access to international capital markets. In Greece and Italy, democratically elected officials stepped down from power with the aim of promoting creditworthiness. The Argentine litigation in the United States again brought attention to substantial sway of bondholders over sovereign states. As a response, economic and legal debates on sovereign debts have been wide and varied, but they have only rarely addressed the core normative issues involved in issuing, trading, and restructuring sovereign debt. Political philosophers have been slow to respond to issues raised by recent debt crises. One likely reason for the current lack of normative reflection on the increased political importance of financial dynamics is the complexity of international financial markets.

The aim of the workshop is therefore to bring together scholars from philosophy, law, and the social sciences to discuss the consequences of rising sovereign debts for the normative ideals that inform existing parliamentary democracy. The workshop will feature invited contributions by keynote speakers Philip Wood (Law, Allen & Overy) and Gabriel Wollner (Philosophy, Humboldt). Drawing on these diverse perspectives, the workshop will contribute to a new framework for evaluating sovereign indebtedness.

Topics include but are certainly not limited to:

  • Financial markets and democratic sovereignty
  • Design of sovereign debt contracts and the role of international institutions
  • The values and dangers of sovereign debt for social welfare
  • Sustainable public finance and investment
  • Fair sovereign debt restructuring
  • Dealing with sovereign debt within the Eurozone
  • Odious debt
  • Rights and responsibilities of bondholders\

Submission details and deadlines:

The workshop is a one day event for which participants are expected to read the presented papers in advance. Papers can be up 10,000 words in length and presentations will be limited to 10 minutes, followed by a 40 minute discussion. To apply, please send a 500 – 700 word abstract to Jens van 't Klooster ( before the 15th of February. Accepted presenters will be asked to circulate their paper by the first of May.

From International Law Reporter