Episode 5: Hot Air and Empty Promises: “Loss and Damage”

“Justice requires not only the ceasing and desisting of injustice but also requires either punishment or reparation for injuries and damages inflicted for prior wrongdoing. The essence of justice is the redistribution of gains earned through the perpetration of injustice. If restitution is not made and reparations not instituted to compensate for prior injustices, those injustices are in effect rewarded. And the benefits such rewards conferred on the perpetrators of injustice will continue to “draw interest,” to be reinvested, and to be passed on to their children, who will use their inherited advantages to continue to exploit the children of the victims of the injustices of their ancestors. Consequently, injustice and inequality will be maintained across the generations as will their deleterious social, economic, and political outcomes.” 

― Amos Wilson

Faced with overwhelming irrefutable evidence, in typical fashion of their serial duplicity and hypocrisy, the neocolonial institutions of the “Global North” have grudgingly accepted their egregious destruction of the planet’s environment. Their fingerprints are all over the scenes of their crimes.

Facing decades of unrelenting pressure from the under-recognized indigenous voices, (including the AGN?) they have resorted to their well-worn playbook of presenting a contrite and benign posture through their government and NGO apparatus and impressive sounding multi-lateral summits. Under this they are coming to the realization that the token amounts of “foreign aid” are threadbare and no longer effective in positioning them as the saviours of the “third world” now referred to as the global south.

And so in order to salvage their sinking reputations, the perpetrators of global environmental destruction agreed to establish a “loss and damage” fund to be paid to the badly affected countries who have little to do with the destruction but have the greatest potential to save the planet through their conservation efforts and environmentally friendly lifestyles. This Loss and Damage Fund language was agreed after intense negotiations at the COP 27 summit held on African soil for the first time in Egypt. It represented a symbolic triumph for the negotiators from Africa and the other indigenous communities.

Despite this there is nothing underpinning this fund and without evidence to the contrary we must recognize this yet another effort at public relations for the neocolonialists, given the hot air they have blown in our faces continually over the decades. In order to run away from the initial commitment they made in 2015 to provide 100 billion dollars a year to enable affected countries to survive the climate crisis they have induced, they had little intention to honour in reality, and they have now come up with fresh jargon to cloud our thinking.

Let us remind ourselves of the nature and values of the institutions and people we are dealing with. How can we trust the promises of the governments, traders, and financial institutions who enslaved our ancestors, exploited them for generations, and after unrelenting pressure from our freedom fighters decided to recognize themselves as the good guys who freed slaves from their bondage? To launder their reputations, they agreed to pay reparations for the slavery they had inflicted on Africans. Few Africans are aware that these reparation funds were paid to the slave owners, who were the criminals, and nothing was paid to the “freed” slaves who were the victims. This was not accidental: their evil plan was to ensure the newly freed slaves were destitute and therefore had no choice but to work for their former masters for next to nothing, thus ensuring they remained an inferior underclass for generations to come. The Africans who fought them off and gained their political independence in Haiti were immediately slapped with the bill to pay reparations to France, which they are still paying to this day. That is the roots of the current neocolonial world order which robs the poor and pays the rich, rewards the perpetrators and punishes their victims.

So let’s make this clear: the one word that the neocolonialists do not want to be mentioned is reparations. They have refused to pay reparations for slave trading and ownership, colonial exploitation, ethnic cleansing, and genocide. They have no intentions of paying victims of their irresponsible environmental damaging.  Loss and Damage is a cop out (pun intended) from reparations and brings fuzziness to the issue. What the majority dwellers of the planet must demand is that these vandalizing entities pay up the reparations.

Now the folly would be to leave the detailed arrangements of how these funds will be handled to the robbers themselves and their accomplices. There are too many holes in the loss and damage promises and we as the victims must enter any engagements with the criminals very carefully with eyes wide open. Some obvious questions we need to think through on our own without inviting their “experts” and “lobbyists” include how much should they repay? Whatever formula we come up with must be simple and straight forward eg a portion of their GDP repaid back to the indigenous communities. The precise number must correspond to our estimates of the accumulated damage caused by the neocolonialists, in order to achieve equality in redressing the plight of the planet.

Whatever numbers we come up with and commitments that these duplicitous institutions make in response, the funds must not be entrusted to their own loan shark multilateral financial institutions like the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and their subsidiary commercial entities. These institutions have served to entrench poverty and inequality since the end of the  second European war in 1945,  through charging usurious levels of interest on whatever “aid” they disburse, interest rates that they do not charge neocolonial countries. They have lost all credibility except in the eyes of the very same oppressors and the false African “leaders” they have corrupted to do their bidding.

Related to this we must ensure the funds go directly to the communities and not via current neocolonialist government structures involving fake boundaries imposed by the erstwhile colonial masters. This is an internal discussion for indigenous thinkers to resolve. We cannot rely on most of these institutions modeled to resemble the colonial exploiters without thought for their constituents.

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