African Union to push for slavery reparations from European nations
A global movement to seek reparations for slavery has been forged during a summit in Ghana this week, with the African Union partnering with Caribbean countries to form a “united front” to persuade European nations to pay for “historical mass crimes”.
The partnership between the 55-member African Union and the Caribbean Community (Caricom) of 20 countries will aim to intensify pressure on former slave-owning nations to engage with the reparations movement.
Delegates also announced the establishment of a global fund based in Africa aiming to accelerate the campaign.
A draft proclamation circulated at the end of the four-day conference did not specify what form the reparations should take but announced that the African Union would explore “litigation options” and work with the United Nations to assess “whether acts of enslavement against Africans constituted serious violations of human rights at the time they were committed”.
A finalised version of the document, the Accra proclamation, is expected to be released this weekend.
Opening the conference, Ghana’s president, Nana Akufo-Addo, said: “The entire period of slavery meant that our progress, economically, culturally, and psychologically, was stifled. There are legions of stories of families who were torn apart … You cannot quantify the effects of such tragedies, but they need to be recognised.”
The “entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade”, he said, adding: “No amount of money can restore the damage caused by the transatlantic slave trade and its consequences. But surely, this is a matter that the world must confront and can no longer ignore.”
African Union delegates travelled to Barbados in July to begin discussions on how to work jointly with Caribbean nations.
Carla Barnett, Caricom’s secretary general, told the conference: “We are at an important inflection point in the global movement for reparatory justice.” She said it was critical to “speak with one voice to advance the call for reparations”.