Renewed Calls for Reparations for People of African Descent

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Barbados has renewed its call for "meaningful and innovative reparations" globally for people of African descent as past and continuing victims of racial discrimination.

Minister of Culture, Stephen Lashley, made the call yesterday while addressing a one-day United Nations High-Level Meeting to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action in New York. This Declaration calls for the universal ratification of the International Convention of the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination.

Mr. Lashley told those present that funding targeted at national economic development, as well as resources intended to support social programmes designed to counter the attacks on the self-worth of people of African descent should be included in these reparations.

"Such programmes are being implemented in Barbadian schools and communities, and they investigate, identify and counter those messages and images that negate the value of the knowledge and culture of people of African descent by building awareness of the fundamental contribution of African peoples to world civilisation," he explained.

The Minister argued that continuous investigation, monitoring, and reporting of acts of racial discrimination must be a priority if the full potential of all individuals and groups within all nations was to be realised, and their human rights protected.

He conceded that not all countries possessed the technical or financial resources for that type of surveillance which would also serve as the basis for reporting to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.??

"It is critical, therefore, that priority be given to providing technical and financial resources to States, as well as regional and international bodies for the development of institutionalised systems of surveillance.?? Barbados is proposing a model for one such system of surveillance and will seek to collaborate with other nations for its full development and implementation," he disclosed.

Acknowledging that racial discrimination had been widely recognised as a root cause of war and inhumanity, Mr. Lashley said it must be given the highest priority and resources required to properly address its perpetuation and consequences. He expressed the view that the challenge would be inherently difficult and complex, but not insurmountable, if those involved remained focus, fair and relevant.

??He reassured the meeting that the Government of Barbados remained committed to eradicating the scourge of racial discrimination, wherever it might occur.

The Minister also called for significant resources to be allocated to fund national, regional and international multi-ethnic research centres to develop new conceptual tools for understanding the complex nature of racial discrimination.

"In the Caribbean, the site of the longest and deepest social experiment in building societies based on a complex of racial shades [is] the University of the West Indies [and it] can be one such centre to study ethnic relations," he suggested.

Mr. Lashley lauded those involved in the project to erect a Permanent Memorial at the United Nations Headquarters to honour the victims of slavery and the transatlantic slave trade.

sharon.austingill-moore@barbados.gov.bb

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