Global economic developments over the past two years have dashed hopes that the risks of sovereign debt crises have been tamed. On February 24–26, 2012, CIGI and the Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET) held a conference in Waterloo, Canada, bringing together experts on sovereign debt crises. Set against the deteriorating situation in Europe, the conference reopened a question that has largely lain dormant for the past decade: is the overall approach to resolving sovereign debt crises adequate for addressing the challenges ahead?

Starting with an overview of the current outlook for sovereign debt burdens over the next decade, the conference discussions took up institutional limitations and how they affected restructuring episodes, concluding with a round table discussion of the landscape for reform and possible agendas. In this paper, co-published with INET, CIGI Senior Visiting Fellow Susan Schadler expands on a number of the ideas raised during the discussion, highlighting relevant recent history and research, and proposing a five-point action plan.

CIGI Papers present in-depth analysis and discussion on governance-related subjects. They include policy papers that present CIGI experts' positions or contributions to policy debates, and background papers that contain research findings, insights and data that contribute to the development of policy positions.