The Paris Club is a strictly informal group of countries that are creditor
s to debtor nations. The role of the club is to identify and coordinate sustainable solutions to help debtor countries meet their repayment obligations, such as through debt
rescheduling (where debt repayments are postponed) or by forgiving portions of debt. A general rule of thumb is that the club only meets debtors in need of debt relief, who are committed to reforms to strengthen their economic and financial situation, such as a current poverty reduction or growth facility programme supported by the IMF
While the Paris Club holds itself up to its own rules and regulations, the club itself is without a legal basis or status. Neither are the outcomes of meetings legal agreements; creditor nations which participate in negotiations instead sign an Agreed Minute, which gives the effect of requesting their own governments to sign bilateral agreements with debtor countries. A permanent secretariat exists which is staffed by employees of the French treasury, and it has its own website (www.clubdeparis.org).
The club grew from a meeting between creditor nations and Argentina in 1956 in Paris. Meetings are convened ten to eleven times a year in Paris, where members discuss debt rescheduling issues. Since then over 386 agreements have been signed between eighty debtor countries and the following: 19 permanent members (plus several other creditors invited on a case by case basis):
Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Netherlands , Norway, Russia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, the United States and the United Kingdom.