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The role of credit rating agencies in debt relief, debt crisis prevention and human rights

17 February 2021
Issued by
The Independent Expert on debt and human rights
At the 46th session of the Human Rights Council


The report focuses on the role of credit rating agencies in debt relief, debt crisis prevention and human rights.


In this report, the Independent Expert on foreign debt and human rights examines the inherent structural problems of credit rating agencies and their failure to perform well their role of assessing risk and addressing the information asymmetry for bridging investors and debtors, thus having a negative impact on debt crisis prevention and resolution. In the present report, she sheds light on how credit rating-related announcements, especially downgrades, can lead to enormous impacts on the ability and capacity of States to respect, protect and fulfil their human rights obligations. The Independent Expert refers to human rights norms and standards applicable to sovereign debt and credit ratings and to the responsibilities of credit rating agencies as important actors in the international debt architecture. A set of recommendations, including in relation to the much-needed accountability and reform of these institutions, is made at the end of the report.

Informal Summaries in English | Français | Español.

Call for information and contributions

For the preparation of this report, the Independent Expert invited States, international financial institutions, academia, think tanks, civil society organizations and networks, trade unions, United Nations agencies and entities, private actors and any other relevant stakeholder to share information, documents, case studies, analysis or views on this topic. The call for contributions was open until 30 November 2020.

Inputs and contributions received


UN Agencies, Economic Commissions and other International Organizations

Civil Society Organizations and Networks