The Sunday Mail
THE United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) on Wednesday held a panel discussion on the negative impact of the legacy of colonialism on human rights.
Addressing this legacy could contribute to overcoming inequalities, and the sustainable development challenges of the twenty-first century, the Council said.
Verene Shepherd, chair of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, told the discussion that political independence and decolonisation efforts had not meant the end of colonialism.
The extent to which former colonies have been able to enjoy socio-economic rights has been hampered by the lingering legacy of colonialism, especially the ideology of white supremacy, she said.
“It is time for former colonial powers to own up to the wrongs of the past and engage in a conversation with former colonies,” Shepherd stressed.
E. Tendayi Achiume, UN Special Rapporteur on contemporary forms of racism, racial discrimination and related intolerance, said that some of the most entrenched forms of systemic racism were the result of the continuing legacy of slavery and colonialism.
There can be no way out of the most pressing global crises without meaningfully addressing the legacy of colonialism, she said, adding that there can be no climate justice without racial justice.
Jose Francisco Cali Tzay, Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples, emphasised the need to recognise indigenous peoples’ right to self-determination.
The negative impact of colonialism has resulted in systemic racism, cyclical poverty, economic inequity, violence, loss of language and culture, and an enormous number of indigenous women and girls going missing or being murdered, he said.
Mihir Kanade, chair of the UN Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, said that many former colonial powers are ideologically opposed to the core principles of the right to development. However, this right is the answer to the continuing negative legacy of colonialism, Kanade underlined.
Fabian Salvioli, UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-repetition, said that the colonial transfer of wealth and racist oppression had created a legacy of social, economic, and cultural exclusion whose effects had been felt for generations. The duty to provide effective remedies to victims, ensure accountability, and to provide reparation to victims is incumbent on the former colonising power, he said.
Nada Al-Nashif, acting High Commissioner for Human Rights, told the panel discussion that colonialism has led to racism, racial discrimination, and xenophobia.
“No State had comprehensively accounted for the past or for the ongoing impacts of systemic racism. Addressing the legacies of colonialism could contribute to overcoming inequalities within and among States, and the sustainable development challenges of the twenty-first century,” she said. – Xinhua