Addressing the four-day ACCRA Reparations Conference, which entered its second day on Wednesday, Dr Carla Barnett said CARICOM leaders have agreed that collaboration with Africa on reparations is critical to moving the reparations justice agenda forward.
“They have expressed their full support for the convening of the Accra Reparations Conference as a strategic and prime opportunity to forge a common, collaborative agenda between the Caribbean and Africa on reparations”, Barnett told the conference that is being held under the theme “Building a United Front to Advance the Cause of Justice and the Payment of Reparations to Africans”.
The conference has brought together many African heads of state and government, alongside scholars, legal experts, and representatives of civil society organisations.
The CARICOM Secretary-General in a video address said the regional leaders welcomed the update that the African Union is also seeking to develop a common position on reparations and a roadmap for future collaboration with the African diaspora on reparatory justice
“The Accra Reparations Conference is, therefore, timely to facilitate dialogue on the reparations agenda,” she said, adding that Caribbean leaders have tabled important proposals for cooperation with the African Union on reparations.
“They would welcome collaboration to co-sponsor a resolution on reparations at the United Nations, to signal our joint commitment and our position that reparatory justice ought to receive due consideration by the United Nations”.
Barnett said the regional countries are to seek an advisory opinion from the International Court of Justice (ICJ) through the United Nations General Assembly.
“We invite the African Union to join us in this campaign. We are also working to have reparations included on the agenda of key meetings of intergovernmental bodies. We hope that we can establish appropriate mechanisms to facilitate cooperation on reparations between CARICOM and Africa, including the proposed joint CARICOM-African Union committee of legal experts.”
Barnett stated that CARICOM welcomes the establishment and excellent advocacy, consultative and research initiatives of the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent and anticipates deepening collaboration with this body, which includes two distinguished CARICOM representatives.
She said the CARICOM-Africa cooperation has increased in several areas following the First CARICOM-Africa Summit of Heads of Government held in September 2021.
“AfriCaribbean Trade and Investment Forums have been held in Barbados and Guyana in 2022 and 2023, respectively. The AU-ECOSOCC Study Tour on Reparations was held in Barbados in July 2023. The Caribbean Community has also participated in the Reparations and Racial Healing Summit in August 2022 in Ghana and welcomes the increased focus on the return of stolen cultural property to both the Caribbean and Africa.”
She urged the conference to seize the moment and ensure that CARICOM, Africa and others from the diaspora speak with one voice to advance the just and strong call for reparations for the crimes against humanity of native genocide, the trans-Atlantic trade in enslaved Africans and chattel enslavement.
Meanwhile, Ghanaian President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo has called for reparations for Africa saying reparations must go along with the restitution of African cultural properties stolen from the continent.
“The effects of the slave trade have been devastating to the continent and the African diaspora. The entire period of slavery meant that our progress, economically, culturally, and psychologically, was stifled,” he said.
“It is time for Africa’s 20 million of whose sons and daughters had their freedoms curtailed and sold into slavery, also to receive reparations,” he added.