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19.10.2023 | 18:0020:00 | Berlin

Expert discussion: “Debt relief for Sri Lanka: potential for demise or transformation?”

Die Veranstaltung findet in englischer Sprache statt.


The crippling debt burden in Sri Lanka aggravated an already tense political, economic and social situation and led to the first-ever default of the country in April 2022. Since then, the country has been in negotiation with its creditors about a debt treatment. Caught between tensions of its major creditors and a system that favors unequal power relationships between creditor and debtor, the debt crisis is not yet resolved. While the government of Sri Lanka is firm to have the debt crisis resolved as soon as possible, experts in Sri Lanka criticizes current steps as insufficient.

Part of the roots of the social misery, besides macroeconomic factors, are historic governance challenges, from the brutal authoritarian rule of the Rajapaksa regime to a current government without popular support that does not address impunity for human rights abuses and economic crimes but rather clamps down on protests and continually postpones elections. While it is the populace that is affected by the heavy economic crisis, it is governments that negotiate about debt relief including for loans that they potentially mismanaged.

In this expert discussion, we want to look at the role of debt relief in the current political and economic situation in Sri Lanka:

  1. What are historical roots of the current crisis in Sri Lanka?
  2. What reforms are necessary to transform to an inclusive, prospering economy? In what ways can the current debt crisis even support economic and social transformation in Sri Lanka? And what role does the IMF and its program conditionalities play?
  3. Is there a risk that providing debt relief stabilizes a human-rights-abusing authoritarian regime? Under what circumstances can it play a role in fostering conditions for inclusive democracy and respect for human rights?
  4. What should the civil society agenda look like and what role can Germany play?


6:00 pm – 6:05 pm: Welcome and introduction

6:10 – 6:45 pm: Inputs panelists

6:45 – 7:30 pm: Plenary discussion


  • Dr. Ahilan Kadirgamar, University of Jaffna
  • Mae Buenaventura, Asian Peoples’ Movement on Debt and Development
  • Matthew Martin, Development Finance International
  • Dr. Jochen Motte, Vereinte Evangelische Mission
  • Kristina Rehbein,


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Sri Lanka Advocacy