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Centre for Commercial Law Studies

Sovereign Debt Forum

Panelists at the Sovering Debt Forum LaunchThe Sovereign Debt Forum (SDF) is the result of a collaboration between Queen Mary University of London (Centre for Commercial Law Studies, CCLS) and Georgetown University (Institute of International Economic Law, IIEL) and was launched at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC on 21 October 2019. In the spring of 2020, the European University Institute became a member of the SDF.

Professor Rosa Maria Lastra, Sir John Lubbock Chair in Banking Law and Chair of the Institute of Banking and Finance Law at the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS), is an academic director of the forum with Anna Gelpern (Georgetown). Visiting Professorial Fellow at the School of Law at Queen Mary, Lee Buchheit, is also a Founding Director of the forum with, Mitu Gulati (Duke), and Sean Hagan (Georgetown). Professor Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal, Professor of Professor of Banking and Finance Law at CCLS, Professor Ugo Panizza from Graduate Institute, and Mark Weidemaier of North Carolina University are affiliated scholars of the Forum.


The Forum serves as an interdisciplinary research hub and a platform for capacity building, policy development, and research-dissemination programs. The Forum’s capacity building work focuses on low- and middle-income countries at risk of sovereign debt distress, as well as countries that have recently gained market access and have limited debt management experience.

Forum activities include:

  • Conducting and disseminating innovative, policy-relevant interdisciplinary research on all aspects of sovereign debt management
  • Development and delivery of capacity-building programs with emphasis on the legal aspects of sovereign borrowing, debt management, restructuring, and litigation
  • Convening experts, researchers and practitioners from diverse academic, policy, and market spheres; organizing conferences, seminars, and policy fora


  • Georgetown Law Institute of International Economic Law
  • Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University London
  • European University Institute

Officials from the following governments and institutions are part of the Consultative Group for the Sovereign Debt Forum: African Legal Support Facility, Central Bank of Ghana, Central Bank of Peru, IMF, Ministry of Finance of Italy, Ministry of Finance of the Netherlands, Paris Club Secretariat, UK HM Treasury, World Bank.

Rosa Lastra and Rodrigo Olivares-Caminal at the launch of the Sovereign Debt Forum


Academic Directors

Founding Directors

Affiliated Scholars

Rosa Lastra, Rhoda Weeks-Brown and Anna Gelpern at the Sovereign Debt Forum

Selected Events

  • The Sovereign Debt Forum Launch took place at the International Monetary Fund in Washington DC on 21 October 2019, in conjunction with the Annual Meetings of the IMF and the World Bank. The program - organized by SDF Academic Co-Directors Anna Gelpern and Rosa Lastra together with IMF General Counsel Rhoda Weeks-Brown - featured remarks by Forum directors, affiliated scholars, officials from member universities, international financial institutions, the African Legal Support Facility, and the Netherlands Ministry of Finance. In addition, Official Consultative Group members representing the governments of France, Germany, the United Kingdom and the United States took part in the launch, along with a wide range of academics, civil society representatives, financial market participants, law practitioners, and policy makers.
  • A glass front of an office building with a purple bubble over the image which reads 'Sovereign Debt Forum presents a webinar on: How to manage the coming sovereign debt crisis'Watch now: How to Manage the Coming Sovereign Debt Crisis. On 10 June 2020, Sovereign Debt experts and policy officials from the IMF and the World Bank consider the rising tide of debt distress, further aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic, and review historical precedents, legal and policy options for managing the crisis in low- and middle-income economies.
  • The Fourth Interdisciplinary Sovereign Debt Research and Management Conference (DebtCon4) took place in September 2020 with format changes to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic will be announced in June 2020. D-DebtCon was an innovative event which was live in 9 countries and 5 different continents under the auspices of the Sovereign Debt Forum (SDF),which is a joint venture between CCLS/QMUL, Georgetown and European University Institute.The London Leg of D-DebtCon took place on 16 September 2020. It consisted of a Policy Session, and an Academic Session, followed by a keynote presentation. Watch the videos from D-DebtCon.
  • The World Bank, in collaboration with the SDF, which is the result of a collaboration between the Centre for Commercial Law Studies at Queen Mary University of London and Georgetown University Law Center, organized a virtual legal training program, 19-22 October 2020.
  • Sovereign Domestic Debt Restructuring: Handle with Care. On Wednesday 9 December 2021, 2pm (UK time), the Soveriegn Debt Forum is hosting a launch discussion of IMF staff research analyzing policymakers' decision to restructure sovereign domestic debt. The Governments in emerging and developing economies have issued a growing share of their debt in their own currencies and under their own laws in recent years. This trend has accelerated with the Covid-19 shock. As a result, domestic debt is likely to play a larger role in the resolution of future sovereign debt crises.