Cuba’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Ana Silvia Rodriguez Abascal, addressing world delegates during the U.N. Commemoration of the Abolition of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade, Oct. 20 stated that the “slave trade and the legacy of slavery are the root causes of social and economic inequalities, hatred, fanaticism, racism and prejudice that today continue to affect people of African descent.”
She reminded the gathering that the historical leader of the Cuban Revolution, Fidel Castro expressed that the current victims of that atrocity deserve compensation. “Full remedy and compensation to the peoples and groups affected by such horrific and imprescriptible crime is an inescapable moral duty,” Abascal said.
The Cuban representative’s statement comes on the heels of a special report to the 193-member U.N. General Assembly Sept. 28 urging the United States to pay reparations.
“Past injustices and crimes against African-Americans need to be addressed with reparatory justice,” the report said. The report’s recommendation came after years of study and interviews with U.S. officials by the U.N.’s Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, according to the Christian Science Monitor. The Working Group is a body made up of experts and human rights lawyers that reports to the U.N.’s High Commissioner on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Commission on Human Rights by resolution 2002/68 in 2002 established the Working Group, and in 2008 the U.N. Human Rights Council by a resolution 9/14 entrusted the Working Group with the following mandate: (a) To study the problems of racial discrimination faced by people of African descent living in the Diaspora; (b) to propose measures to ensure full and effective access to the justice system by people of African descent; (c) to submit recommendations on the design, implementation and enforcement of effective measures to eliminate racial profiling of people of African descent; (d) to make proposals on the elimination of racial discrimination against Africans and people of African descent in all parts of the world; (e) to address all the issues concerning the well-being of Africans and people of African descent contained in the Durban Declaration and Program of Action.
“This is Durban-Plus 15 and nothing has happened to implement the DDPA,” argues activist Dòwòti Désir, manbo asogwe, a member of the Durban 400 and chair of the DDPA Watch Group.
“There has been no commemoration of the DDPA,” she told the AmNews, adding, “There should be a report coming out at the end of the month by a coalition of worldwide NGOs that talks about how to implement the DDPA.”
“For African descendants there are two extraordinary, critically important and inter-related mediations made in the DDPA,” stated a letter drafted Oct. 4 by the NGO Committee for the Elimination of Racism, Afrophobia & Colorism, which was sent to the Office of the U.N. High Commissioner of Human Rights. “First, the Transatlantic Slave Trade in Captive Africans is a crime against humanity; second, given the stature of the crimes committed, its scale and its duration, African descendants are entitled to reparation.”
“This is our reminder to the U.N. that there is a DDPA,” Désir, who chairs the coalition, said.
“The question is since the U.N. passed the International Convention Treaty Against Genocide in 1948, giving Jews reparations in multiple ways, and land now called Israel—so, why in the face of the Transatlantic Slave Trade being a Crime Against Humanity—why is it that the U.N. and the nations of the world do not support reparations for African people?” Dr. Conrad Worrill told the AmNews. “That’s the question.”
“They [the U.N.] are tying up the legitimate aspirations of African people to receive justice and reconciliation in a bureaucracy, and they are tying it up in procedural maneuvers,” Worrill, the past chairman of the Black United front, added. “The issue of reparations being due, no matter how they tie it up in bureaucracy and how the nations of the world don’t support the U.N. Working Group call for reparations. The issue is never going to go away. You cannot murder millions of people whose bodies are on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean today, and have transporting them in the slave trade—reducing them to property in a white supremacist system. This is never going away. They owe us!”
Worrill is also a member of the Durban 400, the group of activists who attended the World Conference Against Racism in Durban, South Africa in 2001.