Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist with a PhD from the universities of Paris VIII and Liège. He is spokesman for the CADTM (Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt) international network, of which he is one of the founding members, and he took part in the process that launched the World Social Forum in 2001.
For more than twenty years his economic analyses and reviews have been widely read in the press and on the Internet. He is the author of numerous books, the most recent being Bankocracy (2015); World debt figures co-authored with Pierre Gottiniaux, Daniel Munevar and Antonio Sanabria (2015); The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man (2014).
Several of his books have been published in more than a dozen languages and have become reference works on questions of debt and International Financial Institutions: Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank: Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers (2010); The World Bank: A Critical Primer (2008). He has taken part in producing two manuals for conducting citizens’ audits.
He has been involved in the struggle for the abolition of Third World debt and the illegitimate public debt of countries of the North for many years.
In 2003 he advised le new Timor-Leste government on relations with the IMF and the World Bank.
In 2005 and in 2008 he was invited by the Economic Commission of the African Union to present propositions on the abolition of illegitimate debts demanded from African countries.
In 2005 he took part, with left wing Argentine economists, in the creation of the International Debt Observatory.
Toussaint took part in Ecuador’s Debt Audit Commission (Comisión para la Auditoria Integral de la Deuda Pública -CAIC), created by the Ecuadorian President Raphael Correa, that sat in 2007. In the same year he advised le President and the Minister of Finance of Ecuador on the creation of a “Bank of the South”. The following year he was consulted as an expert on the same matter by the UN. Also in 2008 the Paraguayan President, Fernando Lugo, called on Toussaint's experience to launch a debt audit for Paraguay. In 2008 he also advised the Venezuelan Minister for Economic Development and Planning.
In September 2010 Toussaint spoke in New York at a UN Special Assembly to assess progress on the Millennium Development goals.
Since 2010 he has been involved in several citizens’ debt audit initiatives in Europe, in Greece, Portugal, Spain, France and Belgium among others. He was consulted by the Brazilian Parliamentary Congress on the debt in 2011 and by the Brazilian Economic Commission in 2013. In 2012 and in 2013, Toussaint was invited by Alexis Tsipras, the President of SYRIZA to discuss the Greek debt situation. In October 2014 he was invited by the majority Members of Parliament of the Argentine National Congress, working to establish the debt audit commission mentioned in the Argentine “Sovereign payment law” passed in September 2014, to speak in a debate on “Debt and National Sovereignty in Latin America”.
Youth and political involvement
Born in Namur in 1954, Eric Toussaint lived in the mining village of Retinne, near Liège (Belgium), where his parents were teachers. Retinne had a population of 2,500 people of more than thirty different nationalities. At the age of thirteen, already present in the struggles of that time (opposition to the war in Vietnam and racism, and supporting workers’ struggles and the Prague Spring among others), he joined the students’ union branch of the FGTB. In 1968 he took part in launching a pupils’ movement that spread to several schools. It was the start of many struggles. In 1970 Eric joined the IVth International and helped to create the “Workers Revolutionary League” (Ligue révolutionnaire des travailleurs – LRT) in May 1970 and became a member of the Politburo alongside Ernest Mandel. Since 1980 he has been a member of the 4th International's United Secretariat and International Committee.
Eric Toussaint held senior positions in the public service union CGSP – teaching branch. Between 1975 and 1994, he actively participated in numerous popular mobilizations (teachers, steelworkers, municipal workers ...). The 1980s were marked by numerous strikes, either to improve public services (including public education), or for structural anti-capitalist reforms, or again to resist the neoliberal offensive. He was particularly active in strikes and workers’ movements in Liège (where he was a teacher) where the population was overwhelmed by the burden of the city's public debt throughout the 1980s.
The notion of international solidarity has had an ever growing influence in his activities and reflections: solidarity with the strikers in Poland in 1980, the British miners in 1984-1985, support for revolutionary experiences by organizing voluntary work brigades to help the farmers in Nicaragua between 1979 and 1989, solidarity against the repression used to quell the “Tiananmen square demonstration” in 1989, opposition to the blockade imposed on Cuba by the United States government, support for the Palestinian struggle and many other struggles around the world.
In 1990 he contributed to the creation of the Committee for the Abolition of Third World Debt (CADTM) and became its president. This committee is now an international network that operates in thirty countries on four continents. In 1999 he participated in the creation of ATTAC Belgium and the World Social Forum in Brazil and its international council in 2001, the European Social Forum in 2002 and the Alter Summit in 2012.
Since 2000 he has been very much involved with leftist Latin American governments and popular movements on the themes of debt, the Bank of the South and other alternatives. With the North in the throes of a debt crisis since 2007-2008, Eric Toussaint has worked for the launching and strengthening of citizens’ debt audits in Europe.
Between 1975 and 1994, Eric Toussaint taught several subjects in many public institutions of technical and vocational education of the city of Liege, including history. Between 1980 and 1984, he also taught economics at the André Renard Foundation, the training school for FGTB (General Federation of Labour of Belgium, biggest union in Wallonia and Brussels) activists, in Liège. Between 1994 and 2014, his trade union, the General Confederation of public services - education branch (affiliated to the FGTB), released him to focus entirely on CADTM activities. Meanwhile, he resumed university studies in political science and was awarded a doctorate from the Universities of Liège and Paris VIII in 2004. Since 1998, he has taught at the Belgian Technical Cooperation on the subject of alternatives to debt and global financial flows. During the academic years 2010-2011, 2011-2012 and 2013-2014, he taught a course at the University of Liège on North/South relations. He is also a fellow of the politically progressive International Institute for Research and Education.
- (2014) The Life and Crimes of an Exemplary Man, CADTM, Liege, Belgium, 2014 (available on free download here)
- (2012) Glance in the Rear View Mirror. Neoliberal Ideology From its Origins to the Present, Haymarket books, Chicago, 2012 (see here)
- (2009) A diagnosis of emerging global crisis and alternatives, VAK, Bombay, 2009
- (2008) The World Bank – A Critical Primer, Between the lines, Toronto/Pluto Press, London/David Philips Publisher, Cape Town/CADTM, Liège, 2008
- (2007) A Diagnosis of Emerging Global Crisis and Alternatives, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2007
- (2007) Bank of the South. An alternative to IMF-World Bank, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2007 (available on free download here)
- (2007) The World Bank, a never ending Coup d’Etat, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2007
- (2005) Your Money or our Life. The Tyranny of the Global Finance, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai & Haymarket, Chicago, 2005
- (2004) Globalisation : Reality, Resistance and Alternative, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2004
With Damien Millet
- (2012) The Debt Crisis: From Europe to Where?, VAK, Bombay, 2012 (see here)
- (2010) Debt, the IMF, and the World Bank, Sixty Questions, Sixty Answers, Monthly Review Press, New York, 2010
- (2005) Tsunamis Aid or Debt Cancellation, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2005
- (2004) Who owes Who ? 50 Questions about the World Debt, University Press, Dhaka; White Lotus Co. Ltd, Bangkok; Fernwood publishing Ltd, Nova Scotia; Books for Change, Bangalore; SIRD, Kuala Lumpur; David Philip, Cape Town; Zed Books, London, 2004
- (2003) The Debt Scam. IMF, World Bank and Third World Debt, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2003
- Manifesto for Making Another World Possible. CADTM at the heart of movements for another world, Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, Mumbai, 2005
- Committee for the Abolition of the Third World Debt
- Association for the Taxation of Financial Transactions and for Citizens' Action
- http://cadtm.org/Ecuador-Report-on-External-Debt in French
- http://cadtm.org/Eric-Toussaint-The-Greek-people, in French