Digital Solidarity in Action: Paving the Way for Collective Resolution of Sovereign Debt Crises


November 24, 2023


In international law, the concept of solidarity is often framed in terms of mutual obligations and responsibilities primarily among states, particularly in times of crisis or need. Such a perspective is elaborated upon by the UN's Independent Expert on Human Rights and International Solidarity, especially in their annual report focusing on debt, solidarity, and human rights. Additionally, the Independent Expert on Foreign Debt and Human Rights, as well as the Independent Expert on the Promotion of a Democratic and Equitable International Order, offer valuable insights into how collective action and cooperation can be leveraged to address challenges like sovereign debt crises. In this increasingly interlinked world, the expression ‘digital solidarity’ mirrors the need for worldwide collaboration via digital channels. Digital solidarity envelops the concept that technologies and digital platforms have the power to abate disparities and cultivate cooperation between communities, countries, and individuals despite geographical and societal barriers.

Sovereign debt crises – situations where countries cannot fulfil debt obligations – have been burgeoning at a distressing pace. Mainly during global economic downturns, the weight of debt becomes unmanageable for numerous nations. Such downturns lay bare the frailties of economies, especially those of developing nations, and lead to ballooning sovereign debt as countries borrow to shore up their economies. This predicament jeopardises global financial steadiness and necessitates urgent intervention. In fact, several countries in the Global South have recently been hit by sovereign debt crises, like Zambia. According to the Global Sovereign Debt Monitor 2022, 135 out of 148 countries surveyed in the Global South are heavily indebted, with 39 countries described as particularly critically indebted.

This post seeks to unravel the intricate dimensions of digital solidarity in the face of crises, with an explicit concentration on the predicaments associated with sovereign debt. It argues that digital platforms have great potential to encourage shared responsibility and facilitate collective action to resolve sovereign debt crises. Through the employment of technology to close gaps, smoothen communication, and facilitate collaborative problem-solving, digital solidarity might lay the groundwork for creating internationally endorsed solutions to sovereign debt crises, thus fostering a more robust and inclusive global economic environment.

In addition, the post will examine the challenges of digital solidarity in addressing sovereign debt crises. It will examine the underpinnings of international law and policy, exploring how they may influence or shape the notion of digital solidarity and aims to conceptualise effective strategies to mobilise digital solidarity in crisis response and debt resolution. By shedding light on the transformative power of digital solidarity as a practical tool for global economic reform, this post aspires to contribute to a more balanced and resilient global economy. This post argues that harnessing digital solidarity can lead to more equitable solutions to sovereign debt crises.


Sovereign debt crises are not new. They have periodically occurred across history. Contemporary instances encompass the Latin American debt crisis of the 1980s and the European sovereign debt crisis ensuing from the 2008 global financial debacle. Each problem possessed distinct catalysts – unrestrained borrowing, discordance in currency, or a sudden dip in investor trust – but shared themes encompassing economic disparities, political unrest, and external jolts.

Various strategies have been deployed to address these crises. Conventionally, global establishments such as the International Monetary Fund (‘IMF’) have significantly extended financial aid to indebted nations. However, such interventions frequently bear rigorous stipulations that sometimes aggravate economic strife. The participation of the private sector and debt reorganisation have also been applied as mechanisms to mitigate crises. These endeavours often attract censure due to their improvised nature and impotence in furnishing sustainable remedies, as they typically focus on immediate fiscal relief rather than tackling foundational problems.

As the digital era unfolds, new instruments and platforms are arising, offering fresh approaches to crisis management. For instance, blockchain technology can enhance transparency and curb dishonesty by monitoring the allocation of funds. Crowd-lending platforms may ease direct loans from individuals or entities to distressed countries, potentially on more agreeable terms. Digital communication tools, including social media, can also stimulate international cooperation and dissemination of knowledge. As the global economic fabric continuously adapts, incorporating these digital tools into crisis resolution tactics may unlock the gateway to crafting more sustainable and all-encompassing solutions for sovereign debt crises.

Conceptualising Digital Solidarity: An Evolutionary Perspective

Digital solidarity constitutes an emerging concept that epitomises the employment of digital technologies and platforms in nurturing solidarity and cooperation among various stakeholders, such as governments, civil society organisations, and technological developers. European Digital Rights and Principles is one of the showcases of digital solidarity. The principal objective of this concerted effort is to confront and address multiple social, economic, and political challenges. Integral components of digital solidarity encompass connectivity, collaboration, inclusivity, and a sense of shared responsibility. Connectivity alludes to the technological apparatus that avails the means for communication and dissemination of information. Collaboration denotes the amalgamation of concerted efforts and resource pooling. Inclusivity guarantees the incorporation of the marginalised and the less privileged. Shared responsibility mirrors the reciprocal obligations and pledges among the participants.

In the milieu of universal economic predicaments, the role of digital solidarity becomes crucial. Take, for example, the circumstances during sovereign debt crises, where states find themselves entangled in the thorny thicket of scant resources and labyrinthine economic quandaries. Here, digital solidarity proffers an avenue for nations to navigate these murky waters jointly. The advent of online social media platforms has opened a new frontier for dialogue between policymakers, economists, and various stakeholders across borders. A case in point is conversations on X, formerly Twitter. These interactions facilitate an unprecedented exchange of invaluable insights and experiences.

Moreover, the innovative utilisation of crowdfunding and blockchain technologies paves the way for unhindered financial patronage, ensuring the pillars of transparency and accountability stand unshaken. At its essence, digital solidarity utilises the expansive digital realm to muster resources and acumen on an international pedestal. This becomes incredibly indispensable when confronting the convoluted economic maladies that disregard territorial demarcations.

What distinguishes digital solidarity and renders it so revolutionary in contrast to connections made outside the digital sphere? The distinction lies in digital solidarity's unprecedented scale, alacrity, and inclusiveness. The traditional methods frequently find themselves shackled by the manacles of bureaucratic red tape and, at times, even stymied by geopolitical obstructions. On the contrary, in theory, digital solidarity adeptly circumvents these impediments. The eternal nature of the digital domain knows no geography; it facilitates instantaneous communication and paves the way for the quick assembly of resources. Beyond the institutions and governments, it emboldens individuals to participate and contribute to the solution canvas actively. This democratisation of participation heralds a new era, with limits (such as the digital divide). It widens the support base and nurtures a more inclusive, globalised modus operandi for tackling issues.

International Law and Policy

International law, coupled with policies concerning sovereign debt crises, is chiefly governed by an array of agreements and conventions and the participation of international financial institutions. As mentioned above, the IMF and the World Bank stand as central pillars, actively devising and implementing frameworks to resolve sovereign debt crises. An informal ensemble of creditor governments, known as the Paris Club, has shown considerable initiative in orchestrating viable resolutions for nations struggling with debt.

Moreover, sovereign debt contracts have come to incorporate collective action clauses. These stipulations enable a supermajority of bondholders to agree on debt restructuring, thereby aiding in resolving sovereign debt crises.

Enter digital solidarity – a burgeoning force with the potential to alter the landscape of international laws and policies. Digital platforms present an open stage for a rich tapestry of voices, diverse in thought and background, to resonate. The momentum generated through this convergence can pressure global institutions to undertake reforms, making them more attuned to the requirements and ambitions of a broader spectrum of stakeholders. Furthermore, digital solidarity promises to bolster transparency and, by extension, demand greater accountability and promptness from the policies steered by international financial institutions.

However, this is more than just a one-way street. With their far-reaching arms, international law and policy can mould the adoption and efficacy of digital solidarity. Facilitative regulations – those encouraging transnational cooperation, the exchange of data, and global crowdfunding – could potentially magnify the capabilities of digital platforms in galvanising resources and promoting collaboration. In stark contrast, policies with a restrictive nature such as those curtailing the unrestrained dissemination of information or imposing strict controls on financial transactions, could act as bottlenecks, thwarting the progress of digital solidarity endeavours.

It is incumbent upon policymakers to be cognisant of the radical transformational capacity that digital solidarity can herald. They must act quickly and with determination to cultivate a conducive milieu which can tap into this potential, marshalling it for the common good in resolving sovereign debt crises.

Strategies for Mobilizing Digital Solidarity

Harnessing digital solidarity necessitates the discernment and skilful employment of a range of platforms and instruments. Social media networks, crowdfunding websites, blockchain technology, and virtual conferencing tools stand out as promising platforms. Social Media Platforms such as X, Facebook, and LinkedIn may serve as conduits for enlightening the populace about sovereign debt crises, disseminating information, and establishing alliances. Crowdfunding platforms may be modified to amass capital for states rippling with the weight of debt.

There exists a plethora of strategies for capitalising on these platforms. Campaigns on social media can be initiated to impart knowledge on the intricacies of sovereign debt crises and underscore the significance of a united front. These campaigns can also amass backing for policy reform. Crowdfunding endeavours must be devised with transparency in mind and lucidly articulate the utilisation of the accumulated capital. Employing blockchain technology ensures not only the security of allocating these resources but also instils confidence among stakeholders regarding the efficacious utilisation of their contributions.

Virtual conferencing tools are invaluable in orchestrating international gatherings and conferences, uniting mavens and policymakers to ruminate over ground-breaking resolutions for debt crises. These tools further promote regular dialogue amongst stakeholders, engendering enduring cooperation.

Alliances and cooperative efforts are of the essence in reinforcing the initiatives of digital solidarity. Non-governmental entities, international financial establishments, and governmental bodies can work together to amplify the scope and influence of digital drives. Collaborations between crowdfunding platforms and financial institutions could pave the way for smooth and safe economic exchanges. Cooperating with technological firms can foster the customisation and materialisation of blockchain technology for resource tracking.

Additionally, academic establishments and research institutions can join forces by furnishing research and data, which can be paramount in making well-informed decisions. Global entities, such as the United Nations, can also advocate and bolster digital solidarity drives, imparting legitimacy and spurring extensive engagement.

Digital solidarity can be effectively galvanised to tackle and possibly ameliorate sovereign debt crises via joint endeavours and shared accountability through the judicious selection of suitable platforms and tools, strategic exploitation, and the establishment of vital collaborations.


In conclusion, digital tools represent a paradigm shift in how we approach sovereign debt crises, offering novel avenues for collaboration, resource mobilisation, and global problem-solving in the digital age. Through the adept utilisation of digital platforms, tools, and strategic partnerships, we can foster a sense of shared responsibility and collective action, which is crucial in addressing the multifaceted challenges of sovereign debt. The integration of digital solidarity into international law and policy, coupled with an inclusive, transparent, and accountable approach, has the potential to recalibrate traditional mechanisms that have often fallen short. As we navigate the complex web of economic interdependencies, the fusion of technology with global cooperation through digital solidarity stands as a beacon of hope.

Addressing the recent sovereign debt crises in countries such as Argentina and Zambia, requires a new era of joint resolution to sovereign debt crises, working towards a more equitable, resilient, and balanced global economy. Developed economies like the United States and Germany, along with digital companies such as Google and Microsoft can play a crucial role in supporting the Global South through technology transfer and collaboration. For instance, the World Bank’s Digital Development Global Practice works with governments in developing countries to build the foundations for inclusive and responsible digital transformation, including their transition to digital economies, governments, and societies.

In addition to North-South cooperation, South-South cooperation also plays a significant role. Notably, the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights has been exploring the regulation of AI and new and emerging technologies in ways which incorporate values such as Ubuntu (see here). Such a fusion of technology with global cooperation through digital solidarity stands as a beacon of hope for a more equitable, resilient, and balanced global economy.

The Author

Charles Ho Wang Mak, Lecturer (Assistant Professor) in Law, The Law School, Robert Gordon University; PhD Candidate, University of Glasgow