News Releases

African Union and the Diaspora speak with one voice for Reparations

For Release Upon Receipt - August 17, 2023


undefinedFrancia Marquez, Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia and The UWI Vice-Chancellor Prof. Sir Hilary Beckles.

The UWI Regional Headquarters, Jamaica W.I. Wednesday, August 16, 2023—As the Caribbean region marked 185 years of Emancipation from slavery, history was again unfolding in Barbados with a convergence of African Union, CARICOM and civil society leaders for a high-level Study Tour on Reparations and Racial Healing.

Convening partners included the African Union Economic Social and Cultural Council (AU-ECOSOCC) and The University of The West Indies (The UWI) with Vice-Chancellor and CARICOM Reparations Commission Chair, Professor Sir Hilary Beckles recognised as a key contributor to the thought leadership which produced the very successful study tour, strengthening bonds between Africa and the diaspora on the subject of reparatory justice.

Professor Beckles’ statement at the concluding news conference held on July 27, was a passionate articulation of the significance of the moment: “This magnificent workshop is the result of the convergence of two very powerful historical forces. Those of us who have come through the diaspora, victims of colonisation, demanding freedom and justice and we are now on the same playing field as our African leaders who have now come to the table to energise this movement.” Acknowledging the longstanding support of global civil society partners for the reparations movement he noted however, that “There is only so much the diaspora can do without the powerful voice and solidarity of African political leadership…finally, as in the Caribbean, African governments have now come on board. We believe this will change the entire trajectory of reparatory justice.”

Mr. Kyeretwie Osei, Head of Programs, ECOSOCC who also served as moderator for the news conference, shared highlight lessons and outcomes of the study tour. These included firstly an identified need to create a political framework on the African continent, the Caribbean and Latin America to guide cooperation on issues of reparative justice. Secondly, a call for institutional cooperation between the African Union and CARICOM as well as like-minded institutions in the Americas. Thirdly, he noted the need to ensure that the reparations dialogue incorporates shared and contemporary challenges e.g., climate justice and improved equity in the global financial architecture. Finally, Mr. Osei acknowledged the clear messaging from the youth participants of the need to better incorporate their perspectives and voices allowing them to own the message, advocate for and campaign on the issue of reparations and reparative justice in their own terms and language.

Speaking on behalf of the African Union, His Excellency Youssouf Mondoha Assoumani, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of the Union of Comoros and Chair of the Permanent Representatives Committee of the African Union focused on the developmental importance of strategic engagements with the diaspora. He positioned the study tour as a part of a process of continuous engagement in various regions of the world; “The African Union recognises that the African diaspora represents a historical and evolutionary experience that calls for an approach which is sensitive to the specificities of different regions. Africa and its diaspora are still reconnecting and collectively recovering from the deep wounds inflicted by slavery and colonialism. This historical context is essential to recognising the urgency of reparatory justice. The demand for a black global identity has never been stronger, and it is crucial to recognise how slavery, colonialism, and racism intersect and impact the lives of black people around the world.”

Also delivering statements were Her Excellency Francia Marquez, Vice-President of the Republic of Colombia; and Mr. Khalid Boudali, Presiding Officer of the ECOSOCC.

Proudly identifying herself as the first woman of African descent to become Vice-President of Colombia, HE Francia Marquez joined colleagues in highlighting the significance of the occasion. She said, “After centuries of loss, damage and suffering, the time has come for transformation, but this of course will be impossible if only the diaspora mobilises around this topic. It will only be possible if Africa also takes on the very important role it needs to occupy, to work with the diaspora, fight for the dignity that we all deserve and fight to stop the shame that has been imposed on our societies historically.”

ECOSOCC Presiding Officer Mr. Boudali committed that outcomes and lessons learned from the study tour will contribute to developing a strategic advocacy campaign in support of the reparations agenda across member states of both regions. He also assured that the Council would continue to play its part in promoting the representation of the African diaspora at the AU’s General Assembly.

The historic study tour was the result of the February 2023 decision of the African Union Assembly of Heads of State and Government which called for a Common African Position and Programme of Action on reparations and reparative justice. Other key partners in the convening of the study tour included the Caribbean Pan African Network (CPAN); the Government of Barbados and the Open Society Foundations serving as a facilitator.



The Economic, Social and Cultural Council (ECOSOCC) was established in July 2004 as an Advisory Organ composed of different social and professional groups of AU Member States. The mandate of ECOSOCC is to contribute, through advice, to the effective translation of the objectives, principles and policies of the African Union into concrete programmes, as well as the evaluation of these programmes.

About The Open Society Foundations

The Open Society Foundations, founded by George Soros, are the world’s largest private funder of independent groups working for justice, democratic governance, and human rights. This mission is approached through the illuminating principles of justice, equity, and expression—defining characteristics of any truly open society.

About The Caribbean Pan African Network

The Caribbean Pan African Network was established as a mechanism to facilitate the Caribbean region’s engagement with the African continent in general and the African Union in particular. The network was formed on the 12th of September 2004 at a meeting in Bridgetown Barbados held at the Commission for Pan African Affairs. It was a joint initiative of the Clement Payne Movement of Barbados, the Emancipation Support Committee of Trinidad and Tobago and the African Union.

About The University of the West Indies

The UWI has been and continues to be a pivotal force in every aspect of Caribbean development; residing at the centre of all efforts to improve the well-being of people across the region for the past 75 years.

From a university college of London in Jamaica with 33 medical students in 1948, The UWI is today an internationally respected, global university with near 50,000 students and five campuses: Mona in Jamaica, St. Augustine in Trinidad and Tobago, Cave Hill in Barbados, Five Islands in Antigua and Barbuda and its Global Campus, and global centres in partnership with universities in North America, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Europe.

The UWI offers over 800 certificate, diploma, undergraduate and postgraduate degree options in Culture, Creative and Performing Arts, Food and Agriculture, Engineering, Humanities and Education, Law, Medical Sciences, Science and Technology, Social Sciences, and Sport. As the Caribbean’s leading university, it possesses the largest pool of Caribbean intellect and expertise committed to confronting the critical issues of our region and wider world.

The UWI has been consistently ranked among the top universities globally by the most reputable ranking agency, Times Higher Education (THE). The UWI is the only Caribbean-based university to make the prestigious lists since its debut in the rankings in 2018. In addition to its leading position in the Caribbean in the World University Rankings, it is also in the top 25 for Latin America and the Caribbean and the top 100 global Golden Age universities (between 50 and 80 years old).  The UWI is also featured among the leading universities on THE’s Impact Rankings for its response to the world’s biggest concerns, outlined in the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including Good Health and Wellbeing; Gender Equality and Climate Action.

2023 marks The UWI’s 75th anniversary. The Diamond jubilee milestone themed “UWI at 75. Rooted. Ready. Rising.” features initiatives purposely designed and aligned to reflect on the past, confront the present, and articulate plans for the future of the regional University.

Learn more at