Head Of United Nations Says Reparations For Slavery Are Necessary To Fight Systemic Racism


Thierry Monasse / Contributor / Getty Images

The United Nation’s (UN) International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade is observed every year on March 25. On Monday, the chief of the intergovernmental organization called for reparations for slavery, citing them as necessary to fight systemic racism.

Per a statement from UN Secretary-General António Guterres, “the past ‘laid the foundations for a violent discrimination system based on white supremacy.’”

“We call for reparatory justice frameworks to help overcome generations of exclusion and discrimination,” said Guterres.

“We appeal for the space and necessary conditions for healing, repair and justice,” Guterres continued. “Descendants of enslaved Africans and people of African descent are still fighting for equal rights and freedoms around the world.”

During the U.N. General Assembly, Hilary Beckles, chair of the Caribbean Community political and economic union (CARICOM) reparations commission, said, “This is the movement that will signal the triumph of good over evil.”

The CARICOM reparations commission was created “to seek reparations, including debt cancellations and support to tackle public health crises, from former colonial powers such as the United Kingdom, France and Portugal.” A poll on Monday from the Repair Campaign, which is generating CARICOM’s nations reparations plans, revealed that “four in ten people in the United Kingdom agreed the Caribbean should receive financial compensation, while three in five agreed a formal apology was due.”

“Britain and other former and current colonial powers to own up to their responsibility,” stated University of the West Indies’ Director of the Centre for Reparation Research Verene Shepherd.

This announcement followed a report the UN released last September, which said “no country had comprehensively accounted for the past and addressed the contemporary legacy of the violent uprooting of an estimated 25 million to 30 million people from Africa over more than 400 years,” Reuters reported.

The U.N. report proposed slavery reparations as a way to compensate for these historic harms.

The report lays out the fact that, “[u]nder international human rights law, compensation for any economically assessable damage, as appropriate and proportional to the gravity of the violation and the circumstances of each case, may also constitute a form of reparations.”

According to the report, “In the context of historical wrongs and harms suffered as a result of colonialism and enslavement, the assessment of the economic damage can be extremely difficult owing to the length of time passed and the difficulty of identifying the perpetrators and victims.”



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