World Conference against Racism–Reparations Now!

By Amadi Ajamu -Guest Columnist- | Last updated: Apr 19, 2011 - 10:49:43 PM

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The year 2011 has been declared the International Year of the People of African Descent and we must revitalize the demand for reparations in the US.
This year, 2011, commemorates the 10th anniversary of the United Nations World Conference against Racism (WCAR) held in Durban, South Africa in September 2001 and the passage of the historic “Durban Declaration.”

African states, non governmental organizations and their allies from around the world converged on Durban ready to work. The largest delegation from the United States was the “Durban 400” led by December 12th Movement International Secretariat and the National Black United Front (NBUF). The fighting spirit of Pan African unity was phenomenal. Delegates huddled, strategizing and fine tuning their united approach to real political redress.

The Durban 400 were on a mission to establish three specific points:

1) The basis of racism is economic;

2) The Trans-Atlantic slave trade was a crime against humanity; and

3) Reparations (compensation) are due. They lobbied nations focusing on Africa, Caribbean and Latin America who would be voting on the Declaration. On the final day and into the night the struggle over the wording of the Declaration and Programme of Action ensued. In the end the Trans-Atlantic slave trade was declared a “crime against humanity” and the issue of reparations was included.

The African peoples' plan of action after the WCAR was to take the fight to the people in their respective nations. The Durban 400 organized the first National Rally for Reparations on the Mall of the U.S. Capital in Washington, D.C. on August 17, 2002, the anniversary of the birth of Marcus Garvey. Over 50,000 people from across the United States attended.

The perpetrators of the racist crimes against humanity are doing all they can to negate the victory in the WCAR. Western national and international major media outlets glossed over the Durban Declaration, distorted or outright lied about the final agreements and outcome.

From the outset the United States led the western nations in their efforts to derail the WCAR. The U.S. sent a mid-level delegation to the conference with orders to direct the dialogue toward defending Israel and ignoring their own centuries-old racist oppression and exploitation of Africans. Israel has learn much from their U.S./European kindred, benefactors during their consistent brutal neo-colonialist occupation of Palestine.

After realizing their demands would not be met in the WCAR, the United States delegation staged a dramatic walk-out in “protest.” The U.S. had boycotted previous United Nations conferences on racism in 1978 and 1983, feigning offense on the issue of equating Zionism with racism.

United Nations follow-up meetings to implement the Durban Declaration have been deliberately slow-tracked. There are usually five and ten year reviews of the progress of implementation, the WCAR took eight years for its first review. The Africa Group and the Working Group for People of African Descent continue to fight the Western European & Others Group with vigor. More work needs to be done on the ground to expose the process and mobilize people.

The demand for Reparations and Durban +10 must be made in the streets!

The year 2011 has been declared the International Year of the People of African Descent and we must revitalize the demand for reparations in the U.S. In the New York City metropolitan area, the December 12th Movement International Secretariat is organizing several upcoming events focusing on Africa, Haiti, national, state, and city issues effecting our people. For information call (718) 398-1766.