Reparations, United Nations

United Nations Chief Says It’s Time To Pay Slavery Reparations For ‘Generations of Discrimination’

Time to pay up!

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres spoke out in favor of reparations for descendants of transatlantic slaves — claiming it’s a great way to pay for systemic racism.

On the U.N. International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery on March 25, Guterres released a statement saying the past “laid the foundations for a violent discrimination system based on white supremacy.”

“We call for reparatory justice frameworks to help overcome generations of exclusion and discrimination,” Guterres said.

A report from the U.N. released in September 2023 recommended countries should consider financial reparations to make up for slavery, an idea that has floated around for decades but is now coming to light. The Caricom reparations commission was designed to seek all reparations from former colonial countries — like the United Kingdom, France, and Portugal — including debt cancellations and support for public health crises. 

The Caribbean is already a favorite to receive reparations. The Repair Campaign is the production of socio-economic reparation plans for the nations. After releasing a poll, 4 in 10 people in the UK voted in favor of the Caribbean to receive financial compensation. Three in five feel a formal apology is due as well. “This is the movement that will signal, finally, the collective victory of humanity, of good over evil,” chair of the reparations commission of Caricom, Hilary Beckles, said at the U.N. General Assembly.

Over 12 million Africans were removed forcibly from their homeland by European merchants on their ships and sold into slavery on American soil, many profiting from free labor. According to The Hill, several who survived the dangerous trips were placed on plantations in Brazil and Caribbean islands. “This laid the foundations for a violent discrimination system based on white supremacy that still echoes today,” Guterres said. 

“Descendants of enslaved Africans and people of African descent are still fighting for equal rights and freedoms around the world.” 

Reparations in the United States have been a hot topic for the past few years. Some lawmakers have pushed legislation that may provide paydays for Black descendants sooner rather than later. In 2023, it was announced that the town of Evanston, Illinois, would be the first city in the U.S. to pay reparations to Black residents. Close to 140 residents were expected to receive $25,000 each by the end of the year. 

New York Rep. Jamaal Bowman has enlisted his support to a federal bill that would give every Black American a one-time payment of $333,000 as restitution for slavery. Under House Resolution 414, it has been declared that the U.S. government has a “moral and legal obligation” to make amends to the descendants of enslaved people. If approved, the legislation would distribute $14 trillion to approximately 42 million Black Americans.