Newsletter 11/19 - Reparations for colonialism are mandatory

On December 22, 2018 the United Nations General Assembly adopts resolution 73/262 (A global call for concrete action for the total elimination of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance and the comprehensive implementation of and follow-up to the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action) in which, [...] welcoming the call upon all the former colonial Powers for reparations, consistent with paragraphs 157 and 158 of the Durban Programme of Action, to redress the historical injustices of slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, [...] encourages the Special Rapporteur […] to submit reports in this regard to the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly […].

On October 29, 2019 the United Nations Special Rapporteur Tendayi Achiume therefore presented the report A/74/321 (Contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and racial intolerance) to the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) of the United Nations General Assembly. After an in-depth analysis of contemporary forms of racial discrimination inherited from transatlantic slavery and colonialism she clarifies that the human rights obligations of Member States in relation to reparations derive, just to mention the most important ones, from the Declaration on the Establishment of a New International Economic Order, from the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, from the Resolution about Responsibility of States for internationally wrongful acts and from the Resolution adopted on Basic Principles and Guidelines on the Right to a Remedy and Reparation for Victims of Gross Violations of International Human Rights Law and Serious Violations of International Humanitarian Law. After highlighting some examples and models as well as political and legal resistance she then lists a series of recommendations for the implementation of colonialism and slavery reparations by the Member States.

Colonialism Reparation welcomes that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance has clarified the human rights obligations of Member States in relation to reparations for racial discrimination rooted in slavery and colonialism and calls for all Member States to follow her recommendations (points 55-63 of the report) for the implementation of the reparations of colonialism and slavery, bearing in mind their lasting impact in the present.