How could countries finance reparations for historical injustices?

Calls are mounting for governments to pay reparations for slavery, colonialism and other crimes, but such projects are often dismissed as unworkable. New research explores the options for making reparations a reality, including debt cancellation and redirecting financial sanctions.

Debt relief is one of the most viable ways to deliver restitution to African countries in particular, according to Nasim Salad, senior associate at The Advocacy Team, which co-authored a report on different financial mechanisms that could be used for reparations.

"It's something of real concern at the moment," she says. "Debt relief can free up a lot of resources and allow countries to spend their money on their own social sectors.

"Debt cancellation is something that's already been done, that can be easily done and that can be seen as a form of reparations. That's in our top three recommendations."

A collaboration with international development consultants Development Reimagined, the report ranks financing options according to their effectiveness, cost, implementation time, the political will needed and other criteria.

As well as cancelling debt, it recommends repurposing financial sanctions to channel assets from perpetrators to victims.

Taxes represent the biggest opportunity to generate reparations, the report found.

In particular, financial transaction taxes (FTTs) were rated as having the highest potential to achieve large-scale financial reparation for different contexts.

"An FTT is essentially a tax that's applied to the purchase or sale of financial instruments such as stocks or bonds," Salad explains.

Read more on RFI English

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