Press release | Date: 25/10/2006
Norway dismisses allegations that it has violated the principle of solidarity in the Paris Club and is supported by the majority of creditor countries. (06.11.06)
Norway defends unilateral debt cancellation in the Paris Club
Norway dismisses allegations that it has violated the principle of solidarity in the Paris Club and is supported by the majority of creditor countries.
On Wednesday 18 October, at Norway’s initiative, the Paris Club (an informal group of creditor governments, mainly from OECD member countries) discussed the Government’s proposal for unilaterally cancelling the remaining debts incurred by Ecuador, Egypt, Jamaica, Peru and Sierra Leone to Norway in connection with the Norwegian Ship Export Campaign (1976-80).
As was expected, several countries felt that Norway was breaching the Paris Club’s principle of solidarity as it was traditionally perceived. However, the majority of the countries that took the floor supported Norway’s position, i.e. they supported the Norwegian view that the principle must not be allowed to get in the way of unilateral debt cancellation, provided that a country did not thereby gain advantages at the expense of other creditor countries.
“I am very pleased by the support we were shown at this meeting. I am glad that other countries are now interested in discussing the lending country’s responsibility when developing countries take up big, heavy loans,” said Minister of International Development Erik Solheim.
Several countries pointed out that since Norway’s unilateral cancellation of the ship export debt , they have experienced increased pressure from NGOs and parliamentarians who want more countries to take a critical view of their debts to developing countries. The Norwegian delegation underscored that Norway would like to see a more active debate on the creditor countries’ political responsibility towards poor countries. This was an important reason behind the Norwegian initiative, which marked the end of a dark chapter in the history of Norwegian development cooperation.
The debate on the responsibility of creditors and responsible lending will be followed up in other forums, including the OECD. The Paris Club will also become more actively involved in this debate, as Norway advocated in Paris