President Joe Biden’s appointee to the United Nations Permanent Forum on People of African Descent called for the intergovernmental body to create what he called a “new bar association” that could “start the process of apology and reparation.”
The Biden administration appointed Howard University Law Professor Justin Hansford, a reparations advocate, to serve as an independent expert on the UN forum, and the UN General Assembly elected him for the 2022-2024 term, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said late last month.
Hansford told the forum late last week that the UN has a history of supporting reparations for human rights violations. “That includes monetary compensation proportionate to the gravity of the harms done to our people … and the ending of cultural genocide” as well as laws to “ensure that the continuation of slavery that in the United States we call mass incarceration would begin to stop,” Hansford said in addition to other reparation proposals.
“White scholars” and “white lawyers” have been in charge of determining reparations, Hansford also said. He proposed creating a “new bar association” with legal thinkers who would “come together and demand that many of the states in this room that have benefited from the legacy of our oppression start the process of apology and reparation, but not on their terms but on our terms.”
Hansford has publicly supported reparations in San Francisco, where the city board supported a plan giving qualifying black residents $5 million each. He said that sum, however, is not enough and no municipal plan will be enough to right the injustice of slavery.
“If you’re going to try to say you’re sorry, you have to speak in the language that people understand, and money is that language,” he said in March, The Associated Press reported.