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When an illegitimate regime contracts with foreign actors and, in essence, mortgages its country’s future, successor regimes and innocent citizens are expected to pay back that mortgage. This all-too-common occurrence saddles citizens with unjust contracts from which they did not benefit and burdens legitimate successor governments with repayment. A declaration of contract non-transferability would put creditors and investors on notice that any future contracts to a regime would not be considered binding on successor governments. In 2012, CGD explored how this approach could be applied in Syria and other fragile states. Successive US administrations have considered the idea.
The controversy surrounding the recent purchase of Venezuelan government bonds by Goldman Sachs is a great reminder of the role that “preemptive contract sanctions” could play in the struggle against odious regimes like that of Nicolas Maduro. In 2010, CGD released a working group report explaining in detail how this new sanctions tool could work. The Maduro regime in Venezuela could be the perfect candidate.
International norms matter. Citizens of the more than 80 nations where polls have been conducted do, think, and act taking into account global realities and norms. Most could be called “global citizens”, not in opposition to, but along with their self-identity as citizens of their own country.
During his first overseas trip as the United States’ top diplomat, and in advance of this week’s Friends of Syria meeting in Rome, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke forcefully in response to concerns from the Syrian Opposition Coalition that the United States is not providing sufficient support to the opposition: