A human rights framework for debt relief

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2 Scopus citations


This project begins to answer the question: How might human rights obligations and standards inform lawmaking around remedies for overindebted individuals? Recently, policymakers in Europe have articulated a desire to incorporate human rights principles in their responses to consumer over-indebtedness. However, there has been no comprehensive analysis of how human rights principles might inform the various responses to over-indebtedness. Further, policy makers outside Europe, including those in the United States, have not even begun to consider a human rights based response to over-indebtedness. This paper analyzes the human rights that are implicated in the responses to over-indebtedness and discusses how each right can be taken into account. In undertaking this analysis, I suggest that a human rights based evaluation of nations' responses to over-indebtedness must be contextualized in nations' background rules including 1) the available social safety net, 2) the nature of consumer credit contracts that default laws permit to exist, and 3) permissible collection methods. This project should be particularly useful for two groups: 1) those drafting or proposing legislation addressing consumer over-indebtedness who are members of countries that have undertaken specific human rights obligations and 2) lawmakers or policymakers who wish their proposed legislation to reflect cognizance of human rights principles even when not obligatory. In addition, this project also illustrates how human rights informed responses to overindebtedness differ from the status quo in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)269-353
Number of pages85
JournalUniversity of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2014

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Economics, Econometrics and Finance (miscellaneous)
  • Law


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