UK’s £18tn Slavery Debt An Underestimation – UN Judge

According to a United Nations judge, the United Kingdom is likely to owe more than £18 trillion in reparations for its past role in the transatlantic slave trade.

According to a paper co-authored by the judge, Patrick Robinson, the UK should pay $24 trillion (£18.8 trillion) for its involvement in slavery in 14 different countries.

According to Robinson, the amount was a “underestimation” of the damage inflicted by slavery, and he was astounded that some countries responsible for slavery believe they can “bury their heads in the sand.”

“Once a state has committed a wrongful act, it’s obliged to pay reparations,” said Mr Robinson, who presided over the trial of Slobodan Milosevic, the former Yugoslav president.


Mr Robinson has been a member of the International Court of Justice (ICJ) since 2015, and as part of his honorary chair of the American Society of International Law, he has been researching reparations.

He assembled a group of economists, lawyers, and historians to write the Brattle Group Report on Transatlantic Chattel Slavery Reparations.

According to the research, the reparations should be paid by 31 former slaveholding powers, including Spain, the United powers, and France, total $107.8 trillion (£87.1 trillion).

The estimate is based on an analysis of five evils produced by slavery as well as the wealth amassed by countries involved in the trade. The report lays out payment plans for decades, but it is up to governments to determine what amounts are paid and how.

In his speech at the London mayor’s office, Robinson said reparations were “necessary for the completion of emancipation”.

He said the “high figures” in the Brattle Report “constitute a clear, unvarnished statement of the grossness” of slavery.


In his own speech, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said the transatlantic slave trade “remains the most degrading and prolonged act of human exploitation ever committed”.


“There should be no doubt or denial of the scale of Britain’s involvement in this depraved experiment,” Mr Khan said.

Caribbean and even African countries have sought slavery reparations from western governments for years with limited success.

“For me, it goes beyond what the government and the political parties want. Khan added

“Of course they should set the tone. But I would like to see the people of the United Kingdom involved in this exercise as a whole.”


When asked if the £18.8tn figure could be too little, Mr Robinson said: “You need to bear in mind that these high figures, as high as they appear to be, reflect an underestimation of the reality of the damage caused by transatlantic chattel slavery. That’s a comment that cannot be ignored.”

He said the sums in the report “accurately reflect the enormity of the damage cause by slavery”.

It amazes me that countries could think, in this day and age, when the consequences of that practice are clear for everyone to see, that they can bury their heads in the sand, and it doesn’t concern them. It’s as though they are in a kind of la la land.” he said

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