U.N. human rights chief calls for global reparations in response to slavery, colonialism

UN chief urges countries to participate in "fully fund comprehensive processes" to address harmful impact African descendants now face.

Updated: July 12, 2021 - 10:36pm

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United Nations Human Rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday urged member states to participate in reparations to address the impact slavery, discrimination and colonial rule have had on black communities worldwide.

Bachelet said countries should "fully fund comprehensive processes" and implement "a wide range of reparations measures" to help African descendants, according to the Associated Press

Countries should "create, reinforce and fully fund comprehensive processes – with full participation of affected communities – to share the truth about what was done and the harms it continues to inflict," she said.

Bachelet's request follows her report after the May 2020 killing of George Floyd and her urging late last month for countries worldwide to do more to help end discrimination, violence and systemic racism against people of African descent – including through reparations.

The former Chilean president told the U.N. Human Rights Council on Monday that research "could not find a single example of a state that has comprehensively reckoned with its past or accounted for its impacts on the lives of people of African descent today," despite some attempts such as apologies, litigation and memorialization. 

"Establishing the truth about these legacies and their impact today, and taking steps to address this harm through a wide range of reparations measures is crucial to healing our societies and providing justice for terrible crimes," Bachelet said. "Measures taken to address the past will transform our future."

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