UN forum delivers reparations and racial justice recommendations as youth raise their voice

Geneva, Switzerland - The third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent (UN PFPAD) concluded Friday with preliminary recommendations centering reparations and other measures to address the ongoing legacies of colonialism and enslavement.

Youth representatives elevate demands for reparatory justice before the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.
Youth representatives elevate demands for reparatory justice before the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.  © TAG24/Kaitlyn Kennedy

More than 1,000 civil society representatives from over 85 countries traveled to Geneva this week to ensure progress on reparatory justice for people of African descent around the world.

"On reparations, we must finally enter a new era," UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Volker Türk said as the PFPAD's third session neared an end. "Governments must step up to show true leadership with a genuine commitment to move swiftly from words to action to adequately address the wrongs of the past."

PFPAD Rapporteur Michael McEachrane then shared the forum's preliminary recommendations for the UN and member states, which include:

Melinda French Gates announces her 2024 endorsement for president
Joe Biden Melinda French Gates announces her 2024 endorsement for president
  • Ensuring a comprehensive program of reparatory justice to eliminate the vestiges of enslavement and colonialism;
  • Promoting global reforms to address anti-Black racism in debt, education, banking, transportation, and migration;
  • Upholding the Durban Declaration and Programme of Action's acknowledgment of enslavement as a crime against humanity;
  • Establishing an international tribunal to adjudicate reparations claims and quantify remedies;
  • Prioritizing reparatory justice and restitution for Haiti;
  • Recognizing the right of return and diasporic citizenship for Afrodescendants;
  • Eliminating the veto power of permanent members of the UN Security Council and adding an African permanent member to the body;
  • Ensuring equal access to quality education and decolonizing curricula;
  • Removing and replacing monuments to enslavement and other atrocities; and
  • Declaring a second International Decade for People of African Descent.

"Reparations is what justice looks like in the 21st century," McEachrane insisted.

Youth of African descent deliver their demands

Youth representatives celebrate following the conclusion of the third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.
Youth representatives celebrate following the conclusion of the third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent.  © Collage: TAG24/Kaitlyn Kennedy

During Friday's session, young participants stood up to deliver the PFPAD's first-ever Youth Declaration, identifying key priorities and recommendations to resounding applause from the packed room.

"We, youth participants of the third session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, come together in full unity within the African diaspora in support of the Sustainable Development Goals as well as recommendations proposed by the forum with our first Youth Declaration," announced Cameron Clarke, who represents Florida International University's Latin American and Caribbean Studies MA program. He is a member of the ICSWG-PFPAD Youth Subcommittee and the 2024 Black Diplomats Academy cohort.

"We affirm the ultimate objectives of the forum and the upliftment of people of African descent, thereby creating a more prosperous and ethical world for all," Clarke continued. "We also recognize the effects, victims, and perpetrators of violent extremism across Africa and the African diaspora."

Trump's "fake electors" in Nevada get huge reprieve from judge in criminal case
Donald Trump Trump's "fake electors" in Nevada get huge reprieve from judge in criminal case

The youth demands – read by Yumi Ndhlovu, a New York University student representing the International Youth Leadership Institute and the ICSWG-PFPAD Youth Subcommittee – include:

  • Adding at least two seats on the PFPAD designated for youth members;
  • Creating a Youth Forum to cultivate leadership;
  • Developing a global Pan-African Student Congress to unify student groups;
  • Increasing member states' monetary support of the PFPAD, including additional financial support for the Youth Forum;
  • Emphasizing the right to reparations and self-determination;
  • Naming a permanent African member of the UN Security Council; and
  • Increasing accessibility by holding future PFPAD meetings at locations in Africa and across the diaspora.

"We must commit to change for the betterment of our people," Clarke urged.

The PFPAD is expected to release its final recommendations by July.

Cover photo: TAG24/Kaitlyn Kennedy

More on Reparations: