Unearthing the Legitimacy of CARICOM's Reparations Bid
27 Pages Posted: 28 Mar 2014
Date Written: March 27, 2014
Fourteen Caribbean countries, coalescing under the CARICOM banner, are preparing to bring a class action suit for reparations for native genocide and slavery against the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands in the International Court of Justice (ICJ). CARICOM, an international organization, with a common market at its core, at its 34th regular meeting of the Heads of Government created the CARICOM Reparations Committee, presided over by the prime minister of St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Gonsalves, with Barbados, Haiti, Guyana, Suriname, and Trinidad and Tobago providing political oversight. This claim arises from the reparation desires of Member States for the legacies of native genocide and slavery, in which almost an entire population of the regions natives peoples was wiped out by these European settlers and whereby millions of slaves were transported from Africa to work on plantations in the West Indies for the economic benefit of these Europeans. These dark sides of the European colonization of the West Indies may be classified as crimes against humanity, and international law provides from reparations for such atrocities, given the myriad historical examples of such reparations. However, in the 1830s when Britain ended slavery, the enslaved people freed, received nothing from the government in compensation for generations of forced labor, though there was money for slave-owners. These vile crimes continue to have lingering effects in the Caribbean today. CARICOM Heads-of-States are unanimous in their opinion that these two tragedies have contributed significantly to underdevelopment of the region. As such it is hoped that reparations will begin to right the wrongs of the past, namely some measure of economic compensation to supplement the economies of these countries and acknowledgement by these countries of the legacies of slavery. The general view is that reparations are valuable and there needs to be some European recognition of the legacies of slavery.
Keywords: Slavery, Transatlantic Slave Trade, Native Genocide, Caricom, Reparations, Colonialism, Caribbean, West Indies
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