United Nations- Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent recommends reparations for African Americans
Office of the High Commissioner
The history of slavery in the United States justifies reparations for African Americans, argues a recent report by a U.N.-affiliated group based in Geneva.
The Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent was established in 2002 by the Commission on Human Rights resolution 2002/68 (as a Special Procedure). The mandate was subsequently renewed by the Commission on Human Rights and the Human Rights Council in its resolutions (CHR 2003/30, 2008/HRC/RES/9/14, 2011/HRC/RES/18/28, 2014/HRC/RES/27/25).
The report transmitted herewith contains the findings of the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent on its visit to the United States of America from 19 to 29 January 2016. In it, the Working Group presents the current legal, institutional and policy framework, and measures taken to prevent racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia, Afrophobia and related intolerance faced by people of African descent in the United States, underscoring positive developments as well as gaps in implementation. The Working Group describes the situation, highlights good practices and the main challenges identified, and makes concrete recommendations.
At the invitation of the Government of the United States of America, the Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent undertook a visit to the United States from 19 to 29 January 2016. The members of the delegation were Mireille Fanon MendèsFrance, Sabelo Gumedze and Ricardo Sunga III.
The Working Group visited Washington, D.C.; Baltimore, Maryland; Jackson, Mississippi; Chicago, Illinois; and New York City. The Working Group met with representatives of several government departments and offices, including the Department of State, the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Labor, the Department of Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency. The Working Group also met with officials of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, in Washington, D.C.
In Baltimore, the Working Group met with the Maryland federal judges. In Jackson, the Working Group met with officials of the Office of the Mayor and the Office of the Attorney General of the State of Mississippi. In Chicago, the Working Group met with the Attorney General of the State of Illinois, and with representatives of the Office of the Mayor of the City of Chicago and the Chicago Police Department. In New York City, the Working Group met with the Office of the Attorney General of the State of New York. The Working Group also met with officials of the White House working on African American issues and with staff of the congressional black caucus and interacted with a member of the United States Senate. In all the cities that the Working Group visited, it also met with hundreds of African Americans from communities with a large population of people of African descent living in the suburbs, as well as with lawyers, academics and representatives of non-governmental organizations.
The Working Group thanks the Government for its invitation and for its cooperation during the visit. In particular, the Working Group thanks the Office of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs at the Department of State for its support. The Working Group would also like to warmly thank the US Human Rights Network for coordinating meetings with civil society in different parts of the country, and all the people who shared their views on the human rights situation of African Americans in the country.
The history of people of African descent in the United States is well documented. The first enslaved Africans were brought to the American colonies in the early part of the seventeenth century. Slavery became an entrenched institution, with Africans making up one fifth of the population of the American colonies by 1775. The issuance in 1863 of the Emancipation Proclamation, which declared that all enslaved persons within the rebellious states were free, was followed by the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States of America, which outlawed the practice of enslavement, the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in 1868, granting full United States citizenship to all persons born or naturalized in the United States, including African Americans, and the Fifteenth Amendment to the Constitution, in 1870, prohibiting denial of the right to vote on the basis of race.
Despite these legal and constitutional developments, the prevalence of “Jim Crow” laws — laws at the state and local levels that enforced racial segregation and persecution, primarily in the southern states — perpetuated political disenfranchisement, social and economic exploitation, violence and the overall subjugation of people of African descent until the 1960s. Lynching was a form of racial terrorism that has contributed to a legacy of racial inequality that the United States must address. Thousands of people of African descent were killed in violent public acts of racial control and domination and the perpetrators were never held accountable
The civil rights movement from 1954 to 1968 was another important era in the struggle for rights by people of African descent in the country. The Montgomery bus boycott, the Selma to Montgomery marches, and many non-violent protests and acts of civil disobedience throughout the country led to further legislative developments, including but not limited to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which prohibited, among other things, discrimination based on race or colour; the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which sought to overcome the legal barriers to the exercise of voting rights by African Americans; and the Fair Housing Act of 1968, which prohibited discrimination in the purchase or renting of property.
The 2010 United States census indicated that there were 43.21 million African Americans, constituting 14 per cent of the United States population. The July 2015 estimates indicated that there were 46.28 million African Americans, constituting 14.4 per cent of the United States population.1 Despite substantial changes since the end of the enforcement of Jim Crow and the fight for civil rights, a systemic ideology of racism ensuring the domination of one group over another continues to impact negatively on the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of African Americans today.
Video: U.N. Experts recommend US reparations for Slavery
Video: Reparations African Americans
Mireille Fanon-Mendes-France, chairwoman of a United Nations working group for people of African descent, reads findings about institutionalized racism after an official visit to the U.S.
Reparations: Martin Luther King Jr., Barack Obama and America’s apology
Obama administration and the U.S. Government To U.S. Government to pay $492 million to 17 Native American tribes
United States: H.R. 40 Commission to Study Reparation Proposals for African-Americans Act