To Repair What Has Been Broken: U.N. Human Rights Chief Calls For Reparations For Slavery

Avatar
Written by Ann Brown
reparations
To repair what has been broken: The United Nations head of human rights, Michelle Bachelet, calls for reparations for slavery in the U.S. Michelle Bachelet, U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights, speaks during the inauguration of the Liberty and Human Rights Museum in Panama City, May 21, 2019. (AP Photo/Arnulfo Franco)

In light of the worldwide George Floyd protests, calls are growing stronger for reparations to African Americans for the U.S. slave trade and the country’s continued systematic racism. The call for the U.S. to pay reparations is also growing stronger at the United Nations.

Back in 2016, a U.N. Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent declared that compensation is necessary to combat the disadvantages caused by 245 years of the U.S. legally allowing the sale of people based on the color of their skin, PBS reported.

Now U.N. Human Rights Chief Michelle Bachelet has called for the U.S. to pay reparations. Bachelet urged countries to confront the legacy of slavery and colonialism through reparations and make amends for “centuries of violence and discrimination”.

Bachelet spoke at the U.N. Human Rights Council in Geneva during an urgent debate on racism and police brutality. She called on countries to analyze their past and to better understand the scope of continuing “systemic discrimination.”

The “gratuitous brutality” in the killing of Floyd was one example Bachelet used, Dawn reported.

This symbol of “systemic racism…has become emblematic of the excessive use of disproportionate force by law enforcement against people of African descent, against people of color, and against indigenous peoples and racial and ethnic minorities in many countries across the globe,” Bachelet said.

“Behind today’s racial violence, systemic racism and discriminatory policing lies the failure to acknowledge and confront the legacy of the slave trade and colonialism,” Bachelet said.

She stressed the need for “decisive reforms,” The Guardian reported.

She insisted that it’s important to make clear that “Black lives matter. Indigenous lives matter. The lives of people of color matter.

“All human beings are born equal in dignity and rights: that is what this council, like my office, stands for,” Bachelet said.

African countries want Bachelet and other U.N. rights experts to investigate racism and police brutality in the U.S., “but potential support for their draft resolution is unclear,” Dawn reported.

Floyd’s brother also asked the U.N. to help African Americans because, he said, “Black lives do not matter in the United States.”

Philonise Floyd spoke to the U.N. council via video-link to the urgent U.N. Human Rights Council debate on systemic racism in the U.S. and beyond.

He said his brother was “tortured to death” as witnesses begged the officer to stop, “showing us Black people the same lesson, yet again: Black lives do not matter in the United States of America.”

“You in the United Nations are your brothers’ and sisters’ keepers in America, and you have the power to help us get justice for my brother George Floyd,” Philonise Floyd said. “I am asking you to help him. I am asking you to help me. I am asking you to help us Black people in America.” 

Philonise Floyd urged the council to establish an independent international commission of inquiry — one of the U.N.’s highest-level investigations, generally reserved for major crises like the Syrian conflict.

Listen to GHOGH with Jamarlin Martin | Episode 72: Jamarlin Martin Part 2. J. Edgar Hoover, the first director of the FBI, may not be around but his energy is present in new Black politics. FBI agents and informants were used to weaken Marcus Garvey, the Nation of Islam and the Black Panthers — in many cases for money and career advancement. How could this energy metastasize into the “New Blacks” politics in 2020? Jamarlin goes solo to discuss who is doing the trading and what is being traded to weaken the aggregate Black political position.

The inquiry was requested on June 16 on behalf of 54 African countries but the proposal was dropped following opposition from the Trump administration and some of its allies, Dawn reported.

The U.S. withdrew from the U.N. Human Rights Council two years ago.

Australia, South Korea, and the Nether­lands all issued statements in support of DC’s outlook on not moving forward with the proposal from the African countries, Dawn reported.