African and Caribbean nations have united to demand reparations for the transatlantic slave trade.
The landmark agreement was reached during a summit in Ghana, where the African Union, comprising 55 countries, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), consisting of 20 nations, formalized their collaboration.
The summit’s primary goal was to mount collective pressure on European countries, urging them to acknowledge the atrocities and exploitation perpetrated during the era of slavery and pay reparations.
Ghana’s President, Nana Akufo-Addo, highlighted the profound and lasting impact of slavery, emphasizing that “the entire period of slavery meant that our progress, economically, culturally, and psychologically, was stifled.”
He continued, “The entire continent of Africa deserves a formal apology from the European nations involved in the slave trade.”
“No amount of money can restore the damage caused by the transatlantic slave trade…But surely, this is a matter that the world must confront and can no longer ignore,” Akufo-Addo concluded.
A key outcome of the conference was the establishment of a global fund based in Africa aimed at propelling the reparations movement forward.
While the specifics of the reparations remain under discussion, the African Union is exploring legal avenues and working with the United Nations to assess the human rights violations committed during the period of enslavement.
CARICOM’s Secretary General, Carla Barnett, described the summit as an “important inflection point in the global movement for reparatory justice,” calling for unity in advancing the reparations agenda.
The United Kingdom’s government, represented at the conference, maintains its resistance to reparations.
The UK Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak, has previously expressed his stance against revisiting historical issues for reparatory purposes, a sentiment echoed by former Prime Minister David Cameron.
In contrast, other European countries have taken steps towards acknowledging and atoning for their colonial past.
Germany has recognized its genocidal actions in Namibia, offering substantial financial aid as compensation.
The Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, has formally apologized for the Netherlands’ role in the slave trade, recognizing it as a crime against humanity.
The movement for reparations has been gaining momentum globally, with institutions like Glasgow University and the Church of England committing funds to address their historical ties to slavery.
Delegates at the summit also visited Elmina Castle, a major site in Ghana linked to the European slave trade, where enslaved individuals were held before their transportation on ships bound for the Caribbean, Brazil, and North America.
During the period spanning from the 16th to the 19th century, European nations forcibly took at least 12 million Africans and subjected them to enslavement on plantations.
CARICOM’s 10-point plan for reparatory justice calls for a formal and complete apology, the cancellation of debts, and substantial investments by former colonial powers in affected countries’ healthcare and education systems.
The recent Brattle report, commissioned by the University of the West Indies, estimated that the UK owes £18.8 trillion in reparations to the Caribbean islands for the centuries of exploitation they endured