A New Perspective on Slavery Reparations

3 min readDec 22, 2023

Authors Sasha Filippova, Kristina Fried and Brian Concannon crafted a noteworthy paper entitled, “Restitution for Haiti, Reparations for All: Haiti’s Place in the Global Reparations Movement,” out now in the University of Miami Inter-American Law Review. To read the paper, click on this link:

For two centuries, the powerful countries that built their wealth on slavery — especially the United States and France — have limited Haiti’s independence and sovereignty, in order to limit the power of Haiti’s example of liberty and equality regardless of skin color. This history includes the imposition of the Independence Debt by France in 1825, and the overthrow of Haiti’s elected President Jean-Bertrand Aristide by the U.S. and France in 2004.

Author Brian Concannon. Photo Credit: IJDH

Author Brian Concannon. Photo Credit: IJDH

As Haitians continue to fight for their independence — currently against a repressive, corrupt government imposed by the International Community — a rising global reparations movement is seeking redress for the victims of slavery throughout the world.

Just as Haiti opened the door to emancipation movements everywhere in 1804 by winning its independence, Haiti can today open the door to worldwide reparations for slavery through its claim for restitution of the Independence Debt, which has unique legal advantages. But in order to assert its claim, Haiti first needs the broader reparations movement’s help reclaiming its democracy.

This article explores Haiti’s Independence Debt, and the fight for restitution of it, in the context of two centuries of continued struggle between Haitians asserting their independence and countries enriched by slavery trying to limit the power of Haiti’s example. It explains how the movement for reparations for slavery can help itself by insisting that the U.S., France and other powerful countries allow Haiti the democracy it needs to successfully assert the restitution claim.

About the authors:

Sasha Filippova (Senior Staff Attorney), Kristina Fried (Staff Attorney) and Brian Concannon (Executive Director) are human rights lawyers with the U.S.-based Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH). IJDH and its sister organization, the Haiti-based Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) support movements in Haiti fighting for human rights, democracy and sovereignty.

Author Sasha Filippova. Photo Credit: IJDH

BAI and IJDH advocate in the courts, on the streets and in the court of public opinion, in Haiti and in cities abroad where too many decisions about Haitians’ rights are made. In addition to working to enforce Haiti’s claim for restitution of the Independence Debt from France, notable BAI/IJDH cases include pursuing the UN for the 2010 cholera epidemic, the Rape Accountability and Prevention Project, the prosecution of Jean-Claude Duvalier and the Raboteau Massacre trial in 2000.

Author Kristina Fried. Photo Credit: IJDH

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