UN must prioritise repatriation of victims of slave trade, says Ramaphosa

Amanda Khoza Presidency reporter
A recent survey has revealed many South Africans think corruption has grown worse during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s tenure.
A recent survey has revealed many South Africans think corruption has grown worse during President Cyril Ramaphosa’s tenure.
Image: Filip Singer - Pool/Getty Images

President Cyril Ramaphosa has called on the UN to put the issue of reparations for victims of the slave trade on its agenda.

“We support the adoption of special measures, including affirmative action programmes and targeted financial assistance, as restitution to communities whose ancestors were sold into slavery,” he said.

Ramaphosa was speaking on the 20th anniversary of the Durban Declaration during the 76th UN General Assembly on Wednesday.

Ramaphosa said the constitution, which was adopted 25 years ago, affirmed that South Africans had to work together towards building a society based on social justice and fundamental human rights and correcting the injustices of our past. This applied to all injustices globally, he said.

“We further support all measures being undertaken to address the historic and contemporary discrimination against people of African descent,” said Ramaphosa.

He added that the legacy of the slave trade continued to be felt in the Americas, the Caribbean, Europe, the Middle East and in Africa.

“Millions of the descendants of Africans who were sold into slavery remain trapped in lives of underdevelopment, disadvantage, discrimination and poverty,” he said.

Ramaphosa said SA called for an increase in representation of people of African descent in global institutions and in positions of leadership.

“As we strive to correct the wrongs of the past, we must combat the racism, sexism and national chauvinism of the present. Racism directed at ethnic minorities, migrants, refugees, the LGBTQI+ community and other marginalised groups has led to the denial of opportunity, to institutionalised discrimination, and to violence,” he said.  

Twenty years ago at the World Conference against Racism, Ramaphosa said a commitment was made towards an anti-discrimination agenda that would bring new hope and change to the lives of millions.

“Just as we stand united to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, must recommit ourselves to implement the Durban Declaration and Platform for Action. We must pursue this objective with energy and goodwill. Ending racism is a fight in which each of us has a stake.”

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