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African and Caribbean states join forces in campaign for transatlantic slavery reparations

Stronger focus at Accra summit on the loss and damage caused by European colonialism and slavery

The campaign for reparations for slavery has been boosted after a summit in Ghana on 16 November, where the African Union (AU) joined forces with Caribbean nations as well as African-American activists to campaign for European countries to acknowledge and compensate for 'historical mass crimes'.

The collaboration between the 55-member AU and the Caribbean Community (Caricom), consisting of 20 countries, at the Accra Reparation Conference adds to the growing demands for reparations for transatlantic slavery. It will focus on the human and economic losses suffered by the region after over 12 million Africans were forcefully abducted by European states and companies between the 16th to the 19th century.

The AU says it plans to investigate 'litigation options' and work with the UN as they evaluate the liability for past acts of enslavement against Africans.

Campaigns for reparations to be paid by colonising nations have had mixed success in recent years. Germany agreed to pay Namibia €1.1 billion (US$1.2bn) in a contested settlement for its genocide against the Herero and Nama people. Last month, Germany's President Frank-Walter Steinmeier apologised to Tanzanians for his country's killing of 200,000-300,000 people when it suppressed the Maji-Maji rebellions between 1905-1907.

British and French officials made less comprehensive apologies for colonial atrocities but have refused to discuss the question of reparations (AC Vol 63 No 19, Calls for a reset get louder with the death of the Queen).

The two blocs want to establish a Global Reparation Fund though there is no agreement on how such a fund would operate. They added that a special envoy will be appointed to 'engage in campaigns as well as litigation and judicial efforts,'

A report by a special UN forum concluded that people of African descent around the world continue 'to be victims of systemic racial discrimination and racialised attacks,' and gave its support for reparations as 'a cornerstone of justice in the 21st century.'

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