Historical Injustice and International Law - an Exploratory Discussion of Reparation for Slavery
Posted: 18 Dec 2002
This article, a draft of which was presented at a South Africa Reading Group sessions at New York Law School, considers the issue of reparation for slavery and the claim for reparation advanced by African states against the West. The paper begins by briefly outlining the principles relating to State responsibility and reparation in international law, and gives an overview of the recognised forms of legal reparation that exist. The paper then provides some exploratory discussion on the issue of reparation for slavery, exploratory in the sense that this is a matter which has received scant attention in recent literature. As regards the current call for reparation, the author identifies the weaknesses of legal claims within the existing international law paradigm of State responsibility. As an alternative, the paper considers ways in which political strategies might be employed to achieve reparation. In particular, the author aims to align calls for reparation for slavery with existing claims to development by African States, as a means by which a moral global economy can be achieved. In this regard, the author considers the feasibility of the different forms of reparation, insofar as they are able to underpin and advance the idea of a moral global economy. The paper also briefly examines the issue of reparation for colonialism and considers how the insights as regards reparation for slavery might be useful in relation to reparation claims for colonialism.
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