South Africa backs call to put reparations for victims of slave trade on UN agenda

South Africa has called on the United Nations to put the issue of reparations for victims of the slave trade on its agenda.

Addressing the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action (DDPA), President Cyril Ramaphosa said millions of the descendants of Africans who were sold into slavery remain trapped in lives of underdevelopment, disadvantage, discrimination and poverty.

He said the legacy of slavery – a crime of unparalleled barbarity – persists in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and in Africa.

President Ramaphosa said South Africa supports the adoption of special measures, including affirmative action programmes and targeted financial assistance, as restitution to communities whose ancestors were sold into slavery.

“We further support all measures being undertaken to address the historic and contemporary discrimination against people of African descent.

“As we strive to correct the wrongs of the past, we must combat the racism, sexism and national chauvinism of the present,” the President said.

Racism directed at ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees, the LGBTQI+ community and other marginalised groups has led to the denial of opportunities and to institutionalised discrimination and violence.

“Twenty years ago at the World Conference against Racism, we committed to an antidiscrimination agenda that would bring new hope and change to the lives of millions.

“Just as we stand united to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, we must recommit ourselves to implement the Durban Declaration and Platform for Action. We must pursue this objective with energy and goodwill,” said the President.

He said countries were called on by history to redouble efforts to build a world free of racism, to right the wrongs of the past and to restore the human dignity of all.

It has been 20 years since South Africa hosted the World Conference Against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance in Durban.

At this conference, UN Member States adopted a landmark plan for combatting these scourges.

The 2001 declaration embodies the commitments of the international community to address the legacy of the past, as well as contemporary forms and manifestations of racism and racial discrimination, including the acknowledgement that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity. – SAnews

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