CARICOM Reparations Commission Attributes Recent Progress to Strategic Partnerships

The following article is republished from CARICOM Today and was written by Timothy Austin, on September 21, 2023.

Reflecting on ten years of activities aimed at defining a path to reconciliation, truth and justice for victims of slavery and native genocide and their descendants, the CARICOM Reparations Commission (CRC) has attributed recent progress to strategic alliances with key stakeholders.

Strategic Partnerships 

The CRC has built strong partnerships and coalitions to increase advocacy and awareness in the Americas, Africa and Europe; strategic alliances were formed with the National African American Reparations Committee (NAARC), Global African Congress in Canada, Glasgow-Caribbean Centre for Development Research, Ateker International Development Organization (AIDO), universities in the United Kingdom, and regional civil society organisations, notably those that have become members of the CRC.

Back row L- R: Ambassador David Comissiong, Senator Trevor Prescod (Barbados); Mr Arley Gill (Grenada); Mr Dorbrene O’Marde (Antigua); Mr Earl Bousquet (Saint Lucia); Mr Eric Philipps (Guyana); Ms Carla Astaphan (St. Kitts & Nevis); Dr Damien Dublin (Dominica) Front row L-R: Dr Niambi Hall Campbell-Dean (The Bahamas); Professor Verene Shepherd (Director, Centre for Reparations Research, The UWI); Professor Sir Hilary Beckles (Chairman, CRC); Dr Hilary Brown (Programme Manager, CARICOM Secretariat); Ms Laleta Davis Mattis (Jamaica)

Ten (10) years of fighting for reparatory justice 

The Commission’s progress over the last decade includes the implementation of a robust reparatory justice advocacy and public education campaign as mandated by the Thirty-Fourth Meeting of CARICOM Heads of Government in 2013, which established the body.

The CARICOM Ten Point Plan for Reparatory Justice, developed by the CRC in 2014, has also received significant support from CRC stakeholders.  The UN Permanent Forum of People of African Descent, at its inaugural meeting in Geneva in December 2022, expressed support for the CARICOM Ten Point Plan and called for its adoption globally. The NAARC, established in April 2015 in New York, has articulated a Ten-Point Action Plan based on the CARICOM model. Reparations Commissions or advocacy groups have been established or are in development in Brazil, Colombia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands, inspired by CARICOM’s lead.

Amplified Advocacy

Through its symposia, public lectures, and participation in panel discussions organised by partners and its publications, the CRC has increased knowledge and understanding and raised consciousness about the unpaid debt owed to the Caribbean for over 400 years of genocide of the Indigenous people and dehumanising chattel enslavement of Africans.

Conferences organised by the CRC in partnership with many leading researchers and advocates have introduced new knowledge in areas such as the history of the Western banking system, intergenerational trauma and the higher incidence in the Caribbean of non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, linked to conditions experienced in the Region under slavery.

In addition, the CRC has amplified advocacy and enabled a timely response from CARICOM to significant developments such as the apology from the Government of the Netherlands in 2022 and the discovery that the abolition loan taken by the British Parliament to end slavery in its colonies, was only paid off in 2015. 

Enthusiastic about the next ten years

The Commission is enthusiastic about the next ten years as it continues with activities advocating for justice for victims of slavery.  These include campaigning for the observance of Emancipation Day by all Member States; the teaching of history as compulsory in Caribbean secondary schools up to Grade 11; implementation of the regional renaming project where streets, monuments, parks and other public spaces bearing the names that reflect a colonial legacy, should be renamed/removed, and continued efforts to facilitate reconnection with Africa, by building a strong coalition and support for the reparations agenda among the governments and people of Africa.

The Commission’s commitment and determination remain firm in the vision of a path to reconciliation, truth, and justice for the victims of slavery and their descendants.

Editor’s Notes:

The Ten-Point Plan for Reparatory Justice guides the CRC. The elements of the plan include:

  1. A Full and Formal Apology
  2. Indigenous Peoples Development Programmes
  3. Funding for Repatriation to Africa
  4. The Establishment of Cultural Institutions and the Return of Cultural Heritage
  5. Assistance in Remedying the Public Health Crisis
  6. Education Programmes
  7. The Enhancement of Historical and Culture Knowledge Exchanges
  8. Psychological Rehabilitation as a result of the Transmission of Trauma
  9. The Right to Development Through the Use of Technology
  10. Debt Cancellation and Monetary Compensation

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