Green Party commits to seeking slavery reparations

Green Party member Nicola Frith relates the significance of the historical passing of the Green Party motion to seek slavery reparations at its Autumn Conference this year.

Northern end of the Centre, Bristol
Nicola Frith

In a historic move, the Green Party has become the first major national party to commit to seeking reparatory justice for the transatlantic trafficking of enslaved Afrikans. 

Members overwhelmingly voted in favour of the motion on the final day of their Autumn Conference). Proposed by Green Councillors Cleo Lake (Bristol) and Scott Ainslie (Lambeth), and supported by the Greens of Colour and the Young Greens, the motion will see the Green Party call on Parliament to establish an All-Party Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice.

Azzees Minott, chair of the Greens of Colour and a significant contributor to getting the motion adopted, stated: “I am thrilled that Greens have been able to lead a historic movement in Britain by passing this motion. So many people see the Greens as a single-issue party, but achieving true social and racial justice is also at the core of what members care about because it’s all connected.”

Tyrone Scott from the Young Greens added: “As a young person of African descent, it has always been a source of shame to me that the UK was so complicit in enslavement. Our school curriculum only offers the most basic teachings of our colonial past, which generally only celebrates the power of the British Empire without detailing how this created deep racial inequalities in this country and across the world, which continue to exist to this day. The Young Greens were proud to work on this groundbreaking motion which sets a precedent to all other UK political parties.”

The All-Party Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice is a campaigning project founded by the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE) and now driven by the Stop the Maangamizi: We Charge Genocide/Ecocide Campaign (SMWeCGEC).

The need for this Commission has long been supported by the work and activism of other members of the International Social Movement for Afrikan Reparations (ISMAR), including those of the Pan-Afrikan Liberation Movement and the International Network of Scholars and Activists for Afrikan Reparations (INOSAAR).

The campaign aims to urge the UK Government to commit to a holistic process of atonement and reparations in accordance with the United Nations Framework on Reparations. A key part of the process includes recognizing and addressing the longstanding legacies of slavery, colonialism and neo-colonialism, such as the racial discrimination of majority world peoples, socio-economic inequality and environmental injustice.

Cleo Lake said: “Getting this motion to conference has been a great example of collaborative working with key reparations campaigners.  

“It represents a significant milestone towards acknowledgement, justice and reconciliation over a painful shared history, the legacy of which still plays out today through rife global inequality, racism, Afriphobia, and a ravaged planet that continues to be pillaged and disrespected.”

The vote at national level follows on from the work of Lambeth Council, led by Green Party Councillor, Scott Ainslie. Earlier this year, Lambeth, which is home to the largest African-Caribbean population in the UK, became the first local authority to pass a successful motion calling for an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice to address the impact of slavery on current racial inequalities in the UK.

Ainslie, who co-signed the motion to Conference, said: “This motion is a step towards “Global Britain” finally facing up to the impact it has on countries throughout the world.

“If Britain can properly address the legacies of its colonial past and present, then it can truly deal with the root causes of our country’s socio-economic inequality and systemic racism.  

“By engaging in a genuine process of reparative and transitional justice, we can begin to heal holistically and re-balance these injustices inflicted by the few which cause endless suffering to the many.”

At the root of this motion lies the work of some of the UK’s foremost reparations scholar-activists: Esther Stanford-Xosei and Kofi Mawuli Klu, co-vice chairs of the Pan-Afrikan Reparations Coalition in Europe (PARCOE).

Since 2001, PARCOE has been leading different reparative initiatives, including the Stop the Maangamizi Campaign and its petition, which has gained over 20,000 paper and online signatures. PARCOE have long been working to put the voices of grassroots and Afrikan Heritage Communities at the centre of the struggle for reparations.

Klu described the motion as a ‘giant leap’ for Afrikan Heritage Communities of reparations interest as they march towards ‘self-determination to achieve reparations that will meaningfully impact on Planet Repairs.’

He paid tribute to others in the ISMAR and the Peoples Reparations International Movement (PRIM), noting that ‘with this enlarging grassroots force of peoples becoming the change, we can now convincingly express confidence in our ability to win the case for the All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice and make reparations doable as a unifying force of all who desire Planet Repairs.’

He noted that it has taken ‘almost three decades of painstaking campaigning endeavours to raise consciousness enough for such results to be the works of not just a few, but the many, including now the Greens of Colour and Young Greens.’

Esther Stanford-Xosei, Coordinator-General of the Stop the Maangamizi Campaign, said: “The passing of this motion by the Green Party is vindication of our efforts. We have believed all along that our community organising efforts will eventually have the ground-up impact of winning more allies who grasp the necessity for an All-Party Parliamentary Commission of Inquiry for Truth and Reparatory Justice and understand it as a repairing process.

“This repair is important, not only for the restoration of the agency of our Afrikan Heritage Communities and stopping the despoliation of the Earth as our human habitat, but also for the rebalancing of society. Afrikan Reparations is a cause that will redress the globalised historical and contemporary injustices of what we call the Maangamizi (Afrikan Holocaust of chattel, colonial and neo-colonial enslavement).”

Emphasising the unifying narrative of reparations and its integral links to environmentalism, she stated that ‘no home in the world has been untouched by such manifestations of the Maangamizi as the climate and ecological crises.

‘That is why the Afrikan reparations we are seeking must have the Planet Repairs impact of restoring the familyhood of humanity which began from our Afrikan peopling of the entire world.’

Passing the motion at national level is, however, only the first step. The next step is to build on existing work that is underway between communities and councillors at local levels.

As Lake states: “The aim is that as many local authorities as possible also pass motions calling for the All-Party Commission, as well as other overarching and region specific resolutions.”

Cities with direct links to the transoceanic trafficking in enslaved Afrikans and areas with strong Green support will be selected as priorities.

To improve understanding about reparations as a holistic process and its links to Planet Repairs, Greens of Colour will be working with the Stop the Maangamizi Campaign and the INOSAAR to produce motion templates and guidance, as well as dedicated workshops for councillors, regional parties, activists and citizens. In the meantime, further information and FAQs can be found on the Green Party Living Room.