UN Leader Says Reparations Are Necessary To Address Racism Globally

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“There is today a momentous opportunity to achieve a turning point for racial equality and justice,” a report by UN High Commissioner of Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said. After the murder of George Floyd last May, Bachelet launched a cornerstone investigation into the centuries-old roots of racial discrimination people of African descent face around the globe. 

According to The Associated Press, Bachelet sought to bring a “transformative” approach to address ongoing oppression experienced by Africans and Black people all over the world stemming from the transatlantic slave trade. The report found that reparations are a way forward in this work. 

“Reparations should not only be equated with financial compensation,” Bachelet, a former president of Chile, wrote, adding that restitution, rehabilitation, apologies, memorials, and national-level acknowledgement of wrongs should also be included as nations seek to address racial inequality and ensure they don’t continue. 

“I am calling on all states to stop denying –– and start dismantling –– racism; to end impunity and build trust; to listen to the voices of people of African descent; and to confront past legacies and deliver redress,” Bachelet said in a video statement, the outlet reported. 

Bachelet went on to applaud groups like Black Lives Matter for providing “grassroots leadership through listening to communities” and advocated that they get “funding, public recognition and support.” 

The report was commissioned last year by the UN-supported Human Rights Council and included testimony of more than 340 people who were mostly of African descent and experts. The report also included an analysis of 190 deaths, mostly in the US, that illustrated an over lack of law enforcement accountability for civil and human rights violations against Black people. That pattern was seen in multiple countries. 

“We could not find a single example of a state that has fully reckoned with the past or comprehensively accounted for the impacts of the lives of people of African descent today,” Mona Rishmawi, a leader on non-discrimination in Bachelet’s office, said. “Our message, therefore, is that this situation is untenable.” 

“We believe very strongly that we only touched the tip of the iceberg,” Rishmawi added. “We really believe that there is a lot more work that needs to be done.” 

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