U.N. Rights Chief Demands Reparations for ‘Slavery, Colonial Rule, and Racism’

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet gestures at a press conference on December 9, 2020 in Geneva. - The UN human rights chief warned that the coronavirus crisis had "zeroed in on the fissures and fragilities in our societies," including a failure to respect basic rights. (Photo by …

The U.N. human rights chief on Monday demanded comprehensive reparations be made to compensate countries that have suffered what she called the deadly legacies of slavery, colonial rule and racial discrimination.

Former Chilean Socialist President Michelle Bachelet presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council a report she hopes will change the definition of racism and highlight its impact.

It comes after her intervention last month calling on the world to immediately dismantle systemic racism against people of African descent and “make amends” to the oppressed while groups like Black Lives Matter should receive “funding, public recognition and support.”

Others have also joined her demands for massive financial redistributions to address the issues of the past.

AP reports Bachelet told the council in Geneva 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 at seeking out the truth through apologies, litigation and memorialization.

She recommended countries “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.”

“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.”

The Human Rights Council commissioned the report during a special session last year following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May 2020.

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