Discover more from Andrew Korybko's Newsletter
CARICOM’s Ten Point Plan For Reparatory Justice Is Actually Quite Reasonable
The CELAC-EU joint statement from this week’s summit referenced the CARICOM reparations plan, which is fair and would be mutually beneficial for those European governments that it pertains if they have the political will to seriously explore it.
This week’s CELAC-EU Summit resulted in a joint statement that saw both blocs compromise on their hardline stances towards reparations and Ukraine respectively, which risked derailing their event earlier this month after the EU’s demand for CELAC to condemn Russia prompted them to demand reparations. Of particular interest to outside observers is the way in which they worded their reference to reparations, which will be analyzed in this piece. Here’s what that part of their joint statement said:
“10. We acknowledge and profoundly regret the untold suffering inflicted on millions of men, women and children as a result of the trans-Atlantic slave trade.
We underline our full support to the related principles and elements contained in the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action, including the acknowledgment that slavery and the slave trade, including the transatlantic slave trade, were appalling tragedies in the history of humanity not only because of their abhorrent barbarism but also in terms of their magnitude, organized nature and especially their negation of the essence of the victims, and that slavery and the slave trade are a crime against humanity.
CELAC referred to the CARICOM ten point Plan for Reparatory Justice.”
The Durban Declaration and Programme of Action can be read here, the essence of which was summarized in the second sentence of the CELAC-EU joint statement. It allows for countries to demand reparations from their former colonizers but doesn’t obligate the offenders to comply. This declaration is more well-known than the CARICOM ten point Plan of Reparatory Justice, the first of which dates to 2001 and involved most of world while the latter is from 2014 and only involved that bloc.
That second-mentioned reparations-related plan is worth paying more attention to because it provides a detailed plan of action and is actually quite reasonable. The issue of reparations is very polarizing in the West, where it’s popularly conflated with direct payments to descendants of slavery. The vast majority of those who’d foot the bill had nothing to do with this, however, hence why they regard it as unfair be forced to pay for the crimes committed by a comparatively small number of their compatriots’ ancestors.
The CARICOM Plan doesn’t demand direct payments from those European governments responsible for slavery in their region, thus making it much less polarizing than what some African Americans demand from the US government. Instead, the Caribbean countries are looking for sustainable development support for improving their people’s lives, which is fair and mutually beneficial. What follows is their demands in bullet point form, which can be learned more about at the official CARICOM site here:
“1. Full Formal Apology
3. Indigenous Peoples Development Program
4. Cultural Institutions
5. Public Health Crisis
6. Illiteracy Eradication
7. African Knowledge Program
8. Psychological Rehabilitation
9. Technology Transfer
10. Debt Cancellation”
To be absolutely clear, the only European governments that these demands should pertain to are those that were responsible for slavery in the Caribbean. Furthermore, it would be unfair to impose additional taxes on their society to pay for these reparations, which should be funded using the existing resources given to their Foreign Ministries for overseas development assistance. Private companies could also be encouraged to participate if they’re offered creative tax incentives, which should be seriously explored.
With this disclaimer in mind, it’ll now be explained why each reparations demand is mutually beneficial:
1. The previously slave-trading European countries will never enjoy goodwill in the Global South until those governments that are guilty of this historical crime offer full formal apologies, thus hamstringing their ability to compete with the Sino-Russo Entente for hearts and minds across this swath of the world.
2. Likewise, Europe’s reputation would improve if it brokered a pact between African and Caribbean countries over the voluntary repatriation of those latter’s citizens whose ancestors were sent to the region as slaves, which could serve as a highly symbolic form of North-South cooperation.
3. The European-supported rehabilitation of indigenous Caribbean communities could counteract the socio-economic risks of substance abuse and poverty that tend to disproportionately afflict historically victimized people, among other problems, thus serving to stabilize the countries in which they live.
4. As part of the first demand regarding a full formal apology for slavery, those European governments that are guilty of this historical crime should also construct cultural institutions where the victims’ descendants can learn about what happened to their ancestors, which could be part of their curriculum.
5. The public health of any region’s inhabitants is in the global interest, and European countries could show the world that they’re sincerely committed to this and thus improve their reputations by prioritizing efforts to reduce the incidence of hypertension and type two diabetes in the Caribbean.
6. Likewise, it’s also in the European countries’ reputational interests to combat illiteracy in this region too, even if they invest in related programs for ulterior reasons related to improving the quality of its labor and markets.
7. The demand for Europeans to support the Caribbean people’s African knowledge programs is a more detailed and inclusive aspect of the second demand regarding voluntary repatriation, which could boost the soft power of those states that participate in this highly symbolic form of North-South cooperation.
8. The European-supported psychological rehabilitation of those Caribbean people descended from slavery is similar to the third demand for rehabilitating indigenous communities, but this one specifically calls for bringing together fragmented communities, which can strengthen national and regional stability.
9. Technology transfers can help bridge the developmental gap between the Caribbean and Latin America while also enabling the first-mentioned to establish strategic niches that eventually lead to it playing an important role in the global economy on par with other regions.
10. And finally, the Caribbean countries shouldn’t remain shackled to debt schemes that only serve to keep them underdeveloped since this incubates socio-economic problems that could pose risks to regional stability, hence why it the previous slave-owning European governments should bail them out.
As was earlier mentioned, reparations are understandably a very polarizing issue in Western societies, but the CARICOM Plan is fair and would be mutually beneficial if those European governments that it pertains to agreed to participate in it. They’d improve their reputations across the Global South while cultivating some promising economic partners, which is why policymakers should seriously consider commissioning studies to determine the costs as well as the most efficient way for implementing this.