Global Summit on ‘Reparations and Racial Healing’ sets a new standard for reparations


Recognising past historical injustices including the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and colonialism among others – and the recent yet critical historic moment in the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd and subsequent global outcry, the disparities laid bare as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic, economic fallout from the pandemic among others, the recently-held ‘Advancing Justice: Reparations and Racial Healing Summit’ has made some progress.

The summit brought together scholars, activists, academics and artists from around the world to hold a number of plenary sessions exploring the role of global systems and structures in perpetuating harm, fundamental components for racial healing, and exploring the current landscape of reparations and healing advocacy.

President Nana Akufo-Addo served as one of the keynote speakers, and in his remarks declared ‘Reparations and Racial Healing’ as unequivocal global imperatives.

As a former Head of the African Union, he seized the opportunity availed by the summit to recommit the continental organisation to the agenda of justice, racial healing and accountability across the board. Out of this summit, ‘The Accra Declaration’ has been developed.

Building on The Abuja Proclamation of 1993 and Durban Declaration and Programme of Action of 2001, The Accra Declaration pushes forward a global agenda for reparations and healing and lays the framework for organisation, engagement and advocacy strategy moving forward.

A year-long series of meetings focused on reparations and racial healing, facilitated by a cohort of organisations working as a collective, culminated in an international convening attended by heads of state, diplomats, scholars, activists, artists and civil society organisations, has finally affirmed a bold agenda for the Global Reparations Movement.

In 2021, twenty-three organisations were selected by the John D. and Catherine T. Macarthur Foundation as part of its Equitable Recovery Grant Initiative.

Believing in the utmost importance of capitalising on this moment, the cohort, calling themselves the ‘Global Circle for Reparations and Healing’, began meeting regularly to develop strategies to amplify and support each other’s work.

To that end, the Global Circle believed it is imperative for reparations advocates, scholars, artists and activists from around the world to come together and dialogue, learn from each other, and hopefully strengthen opportunities for collective action to advance the reparations and healing agenda worldwide.

The discussions resulted in three major gatherings: First, a convening in Italy at which experts from around the world deepened their understanding of the Global North’s role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade and its legacies of colonialism, neocolonialism, racism, apartheid, genocide, and plunder.

Secondly, a meeting with the Roman Catholic Church on the issue of accountability for its role in initiating and facilitating the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Thirdly, a global summit bringing reparations and racial healing practitioners together to learn about the current reparations and racial healing landscape; increase the knowledge base to include information about practical steps currently being implemented internationally to advance reparations and healing; and lay the groundwork for relationships upon which to develop collective action on all three goals. The global circle met and even exceeded critical objectives.

The cohort held a convening with participants from around the world in Bellagio, Italy, at the Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Centre on the invitation of Howard University Knight Journalism Professor and Creator of the 1619 Project, Nikole Hannah-Jones.

That convening produced 15 Commitments which attendees agreed will serve as the basis for global collective strategy development. The Global Circle subsequently held a meeting at The Vatican in Rome, Italy, with key Vatican Leadership. They issued a formal presentment and discussed a plan of accountability for the Roman Catholic Church’s role in initiation of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade.

Out of this meeting, the cohort developed – with input from Vatican leadership – an engagement strategy and a list of contacts for key individuals and groups from the Roman Catholic Church around the world. Follow-up meetings will take place with the Vatican in September 2022.

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