Human Rights Report Calls for Nations' 'Wide Range of Reparations' to Apologize for Slavery

U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet on Monday urged nations to use "a wide range of reparations measures" to address slavery in a new report.

The report, presented to the U.N. Human Rights Council last month and launched after the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer last year, aims to shed light on the effects of slavery and racial discrimination on people of African descent.

"Establishing the truth about these legacies, and their impact today, and taking steps to address this harm through a wide range of reparations measures is crucial to healing our societies and providing justice for terrible crimes," Bachelet said.

Bachelet recommended that countries "create, reinforce and fully fund comprehensive processes" to " share the truth about what was done, and the harms it continues to inflict." She added, "Measures taken to address the past will transform our future."

A report from the U.N Human Rights Council urges nations to establish "a range of reparation measures" to address the impact of slavery and discrimination on people of African descent. Above, a woman waves a flag calling for reparations for the 1921 Tulsa Massacre during a Juneteenth festival in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on June 19. Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images

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Bachelet, the U.N.'s high commissioner for human rights, told the council in Geneva that research "could not find a single example of a state that has comprehensively reckoned with its past or accounted for its impacts on the lives of people of African descent today," despite some attempts at seeking out the truth through apologies, litigation and memorialization.

The Human Rights Council commissioned the report during a special session last year following the murder of Floyd, a Black American who was killed by a white police officer in Minneapolis in May 2020. The officer, Derek Chauvin, was sentenced to 22 1/2 years in prison last month.

The U.S. charge d'affaires in Geneva, Benjamin Moeling, welcomed the "insightful and forthright report" in a video statement to the council.

"The United States is addressing these challenges, at home and abroad, honestly and transparently by tackling the underlying issues of racial discrimination and the use of excessive force in policing," he said.

Michelle Bachelet UN Human Rights
Michelle Bachelet, U.N. high commissioner for human rights, speaks during a press conference at the U.N.'s European headquarters in Geneva on December 9, 2020. Martial Trezzini/Keystone via AP, file