The debate on reparations for the lasting impacts of colonialism has gained considerable momentum at the United Nations and Colonialism Reparation, an organization dedicated to addressing historical injustices, has welcomed the development.
In a press release, Colonialism Reparation said the expanding discussions within the United Nations signify a growing global recognition of the need to address the enduring consequences of colonialism.
“Colonialism Reparation welcomes that the debate on reparations is expanding at the United Nations and hopes that also other Member States will begin to support reparations for colonialism in its various aspects (genocide of the native people, transatlantic trade, slavery, imperialism and neocolonialism), bearing in mind their lasting impact in the present,” Colonial Reparation said.
The organisation highlighted some of the progress so far.
According to Colonial Reparation, on 19 September 2023, a landmark report (A/78/317) was presented by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Volker Türk, as part of the International Decade for People of African Descent. The report, endorsed by the United Nations Secretary-General, outlines a series of concrete steps for governments to actualize reparations from former colonial powers. The recommended measures centred on the direct involvement of people of African descent, include initiatives like public apologies, education and awareness programmes, restitution, and compensation.
The General Debate of the 78th session of the United Nations General Assembly, held in New York 19-26 September 2023, saw an unprecedented call for reparations. Delegates from Caribbean and African nations, including Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Ghana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, and Venezuela, united in their demand for reparative justice for the multifaceted impacts of colonialism – spanning genocide, slavery, and various forms of imperialism.
Further, the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian, and Cultural Issues) of the 78th UN General Assembly, in its 40th, 41st, 42nd, and 43rd meetings on 27 and 30 October 2023, centred its debates on the reparations and justice for people of African descent. These discussions highlighted the global community’s increasing acknowledgement of the need for reparatory justice.
Colonialism Reparation said its positive reception of these developments reflects a hopeful outlook for broader support among UN Member States. It emphasized the necessity of recognizing and addressing the lasting impacts of colonial practices, not only as a matter of historical rectification but as a vital step towards global justice and equality.