9 Int'l Zeitschrift 27 (2013)
Thinking again about Reparations for Africa

handle is hein.journals/intzeit9 and id is 30 raw text is: Thinking Again About Reparations for Africa,
Infrastructure, Education, and Industry for Africa are long
overdue based on the legal concept of Unjust Enrichment
C.G. Bateman
Introduction
This article suggests that a legal argument could be made out that Africa, in the hands of
a number of Western sovereign nations over a period of four hundred years dating back to
the 16th century, has been the victim of multivariate expropriations of human life, natural
resources, and other sources of wealth in a case of what amounts to unjust enrichment.
The courts of English speaking countries that came up with this legal concept usually ask:
1. Was there enrichment? 2. Was it at the expense of the victim? 3. Was it unfair? 4. Is
there a good reason for it which might excuse it? 5. What remedy should be enforced?
Then, once you have answered these questions and have determined a remedy is in order,
one of the concepts brought to bear on the analysis is that if there is money owing,
compound interest is most usually applied, for obvious reasons. Herein I suggest that
because the sums owed to Africa are incalculably high, a program of repayment in
reparations by the impugned sovereign states in the form of infrastructure, education, and
industry would be the only just way forward. The author also acknowledges the debt
owed by the Muslim countries who took African slaves in about the same number as the
West over the centuries, and therefore these sovereign Muslim states ought to be included
in this possible international-legal solution concerning reparations.
The Problem
The West's horrendous treatment of Africa over the last four hundred years leads to only
one conclusion: the African people deserve sustained reparations for their losses. In
various corners of the world today, indigenous peoples are now standing up for rights
which had been theirs for centuries, and they are demanding, and often receiving,
reparations in the form of lands and money. So it should be: the Aboriginal peoples of
North and South America, the thousands of Japanese people living in the United States
and Canada during the Second World War who were detained and maltreated based on
their race, and the merciless killing and sickening treatment of millions of Jewish people
at the hands of the Nazis, are just a few examples of how victimized groups within the
global community have stood up and had their right not to be abused enforced with some
kind of compensation for past wrongs. These groups which suffered such systematic
abuse deserve to have some kind of reparations for their colossal losses.
Likely the most abused group of people in the history of the world are those of Africa.
While this article does not directly address the subject of the loss of human lives for
Africa via the monstrous and horrific millennium long slave trade carried on by Muslim
and Christian nations from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries, this historical reality
must be considered alongside the expropriation of mineral and other resources in any case
based on the concept of unjust enrichment. It would be enough to simply remind the
1 This article is an updated version of an article that previously appeared in International Zeitschrift.

27

IZ 9. 1, April 2013

Thinking Again: Reparations for Africa

C.G. Bateman

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