At the UN, some leaders demand payment for past wrongs

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At this year’s United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York City, several leaders expressed their approval of the reparations.

They supported a system of payments from countries with historical ties to slavery and colonialism. Officials from South Africa, Cameroon, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Cuba and Malaysia have urged the creation of a reparations system.

But large countries like the United States, Britain and Germany have mostly not commented on the matter.

Philip J. Pierre is the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia. He said: “Caribbean countries like ours, which were exploited and underdeveloped to finance the development of Europe, argued for reparations for slavery and indigenous genocide. He added that he wanted the problem to be dealt with seriously and urgently.

But the payment of reparations was not among the issues discussed by the great world powers.

US President Joe Biden did not mention reparations in his speech at the UN. But earlier this year, the Biden administration said it supported the study of reparations for black Americans. The office of U.S. Ambassador to the UN Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who is African-American, has not commented on recent discussions on reparations to The Associated Press.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa discussed the issue. He called the time of slavery “one of the darkest periods in human history”.

Slavery in what would become the United States began over 400 years ago in some of the British colonies. In the United States, slavery was outlawed during the American Civil War which ended in 1865.

The reparations debate has continued for many years. It hasn’t garnered much interest in the past 30 years. However, the repairs have gained support in some cities and local governments since the 2020 death of George Floyd, a black man, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Carla Ferstman is an expert in international law studying reparations at the University of Essex in Great Britain. She said the UN talks are a big step forward for the reparations movement around the world.

Repairs can take many forms. There could be direct financial payments to individuals. Development assistance could be offered to countries. Colonized lands, art and cultural objects could be returned. Correcting policies and laws that continue to discriminate could also be done. And excuses that include eliminating national heroes who are no longer in favor are other possibilities.

” Must be sensitive to what is important and how better rectify“said Ferstman.

The Durban Declaration against Racism

The latest reparations talks came as the UN honored the 2001 anti-racism conference in South Africa. He produced what is called the Durban Declaration.

Last week, a UN group approved a resolution indicating that there had been progress on the issue. But he also said there had been an increase in discrimination and violence against people of African descent. Other groups facing ill-treatment included refugees, displaced people, people with disabilities, Roma in Europe, young people and the elderly.

The resolution said that there should be a way to descent request a fair “compensation or satisfaction for any damage suffered”. But the resolution stopped before demanding that nations pay reparations to countries their governments have wronged.

The United States, Britain and Germany were among several countries that did not attend the meeting honoring the Durban Declaration. The United States boycotted the meeting 20 years ago because of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The German president, in his speech to the General Assembly, also did not speak of reparations. But Germany is one of the few countries that has offered to pay money to compensate for its past actions.

Earlier this year, Germany officially recognized the murder of tens of thousands of people in Namibia as genocide. He offered to provide 1.1 billion euros over 30 years for projects involving the people concerned. But Germany did not call the reparations payments.

I am Dan Novak.

Sally Ho reported this story to The Associated Press. Dan Novak adapted it for VOA Learning English. Mario Ritter, Jr. was the editor.

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Words in this story

descending nm someone who is related to a person or group of people who have lived in the past

feat v. to use in a way that unfairly helps you

sensitive adj. understand the feelings of others

rectify v. correct something wrong


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