Posted on June 2, 2023

Howard University Pushes for UN Tribunal to Force Washington to Pay African Americans — Without the Approval of Voters

James Reinl, Daily Mail, June 1, 2023

A group of African American academics is pushing for a UN ‘reparations tribunal’ to make Washington pay multimillion dollar sums to black citizens for slavery-era abuses, can reveal.

Justin Hansford, a professor at Howard University School of Law, led the charge for $5 million payouts to black Americans at the UN this week, flanked by colleagues from the University of Pittsburgh and Columbia University.

The long-shot effort underscores how reparation payouts are unpopular among white American taxpayers and have little chance of becoming federal law, leaving advocates scrambling for a workaround.

‘I come to you today with a novel proposal, that we begin to think our own thoughts, propose our own vision of justice, and implement that justice,’ Hansford told UN racial justice talks in New York City this week.

He called for a ‘process of apology, and reparation — not on their terms, but on our terms.’

Hansford, a rising star of the critical race theory movement who draws on the teachings of Martin Luther King Jr, spoke at the UN Permanent Forum on People of African Descent, a group that was created in 2021.

The ‘special tribunal’ was formally proposed by David Comissiong, representing Barbados, a Caribbean island state.

Hansford quickly endorsed the plan. He later told that many African and Caribbean UN members were behind the scheme.

The US mission to the UN, which is headed by ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, a Biden administration appointee who is black, does not officially support the tribunal.

But Hansford said US diplomats at the mission had been ‘supportive overall.’

Thomas-Greenfield also spoke at the event, saying African-American families often lived in polluted neighborhoods. She grew up in Louisiana ‘near so-called cancer alley,’ she added.

‘Let us dismantle structural racism, brick by brick,’ said the career diplomat.

‘Let’s leave our children a cleaner, fairer, more just world.’

The UN General Assembly in 2005 created a five-point legal framework for reparations for victims of slavery and other abuses, which can lead to payouts, apologies, and demand policy changes.

But like much of the UN system, decisions are not legally binding, and it remains unclear whether a tribunal could do anything other than add some external pressure to buoy racial justice activists in the US.

Neither the US mission to the UN nor the UN’s human rights team in Geneva, which oversees the permanent forum, immediately answered’s requests for comment.

In an interview, Hansford said a UN reparation tribunal was only one route to push the US federal government, as well as state and city officials, to address racial inequalities dating back to the slavery era.

Howard University gave legal advice to Evanston, Illinois, which in 2021 became the first US city to make reparations payments to black residents, with $25,000 grants to those affected by racist housing policies before 1969, he said.

Payouts to black Americans should be assessed case-by-case, said Hansford, a descendant of slaves in Forsyth, Georgia.

For families that have endured generations of ‘horrific’ oppression, sums of $5 million would be ‘on the low end of what’s appropriate,’ he said.

Plans to compensate black Americans for slavery-era sins have been around for centuries. They’ve gained traction in recent months as ever more left-leaning states and cities launch local inquiries into their own atonement schemes.

San Francisco made headlines this year with a proposal for $5 million payouts to every longtime black resident, and other plans to address generations of economic losses suffered by the minority group.

Advocates of reparations say it’s time for America to repay its black residents for the injustices of the historic Transatlantic slave trade, Jim Crow segregation and inequalities that persist to this day.

There is no agreed framework for what a scheme would look like. Ideas range from cash payouts to scholarships, land giveaways, money for special banks and investment funds, bespoke grants for housing, or just statues and street names.

Critics say they cost too much, are unfair, and will sow divisions between winners and losers.

The schemes are popular with 77 percent of the black Americans, who could benefit from payouts, according to Pew Research Center polling.

But only 18 percent of whites — who would shoulder an extra tax burden — support them.