United States


NEW YORK, August 19, 2019—The International Center for Transitional Justice announces the addition of two distinguished members to its Board of Directors. Ellen Taus and Brad Smith bring to ICTJ decades of experience in leadership roles at major global institutions.


For a brief and all-too-rare moment in American politics, the case for slavery reparations took center stage Tuesday night during the first of the two Democratic presidential debates in Detroit.

Programs Expert


In the United States, the debate over a national reparations program for slavery and Jim Crow has until now encountered political opposition. However, transitional justice approaches at the community level are increasingly surfacing to address racial injustice. A handful of 2020 presidential candidates have come out in support of reparations for slavery. Recently, Georgetown University took center stage in this debate when its student body voted in favor of a student-led initiative to establish a fee that will fund education and health care programs for the descendants of 272 enslaved persons sold by the university in 1838.


Over the past decade, British and American universities have been digging into their historical ties to slavery. Most have sought to ‘atone’ for their past through special programs and research projects.


Donald Trump has nominated Philip Goldberg, who was once expelled from Bolivia amid claims that he was fomenting dissent against then-president Evo Morales, as the new U.S. ambassador to Colombia. Unlike Bolivia, Colombia has long been a staunch ally of the U.S., which views it as a bulwark against leftwing governments across the region.


Students at Georgetown University have voted to increase their tuition to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved Africans that the Jesuits who ran the school sold nearly two centuries ago to secure its financial future. The fund they voted to create would represent the first instance of reparations for slavery by a prominent American organization.

The proposal passed with two-thirds of the vote, but the student-led referendum was nonbinding, and the university’s board of directors must approve the measure before it can take effect.


Senator Cory Booker is introducing a Senate bill to study reparations for African Americans. It will be a companion bill to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee's legislation, which would also create a congressional panel to study the possibility of reparations for the descendants of slaves.

Booker hinted at the legislation last month during a CNN town hall, where he criticized the dialogue around reparations, saying it's "reduced to a box to check on a presidential list, when this is so much more of a serious conversation."


From February 22 to March 1, ICTJ held its annual retreat in Litchfield Hills, Connecticut. Staff members convened at the Wisdom House—an interfaith conference center that seeks to provide an environment conducive to introspection and teambuilding.


New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell is set to issue a first-ever apology to Italian-Americans for the city's role in the largest mass lynching in U.S. history, which killed 11 Italians in New Orleans in 1891. The lynching was sparked when a jury acquitted more than a dozen Italians who were rounded up in the wake of Police Commissioner David Hennessy's murder. A mob proceeded to storm the prison where the Italians were held, leaving the bodies "riddled by bullets or hanged to lamp posts."


A case brought by indigenous Ovaherero and Nama and descendants of the estimated 100,000 people who were systematically killed by colonizing Germans between 1904 and 1908 in what is now Namibia was thrown out by U.S. District Judge Laura Taylor Swain for lack of jurisdiction. Attorney Ken McCallion appealed immediately, confident that the Second Circuit will give his clients a reversal.