Agreement with Namibia

Germany is trying to evade responsibility (Press Release)

According to the Society for Threatened Peoples (STP), the Federal Republic of Germany is not only ignoring the descendants of the victims in the negotiations with Namibia regarding reparations for the genocide against the Herero and the Nama – the according UN convention is ignored as well. "Normally, Germany would have to pay reparations for the genocide crimes, directly to the descendants of the vicitms," emphasized Nadja Grossenbacher, STP expert on genocide prevention and the Responsibility to Protect, in Göttingen on Thursday. "However, the Federal Government is trying to evade responsibility by avoiding the term 'reparations' and by relativizing the definition of a genocide – thus acting as if international law did not apply in this case." 

In order to give the impression that Germany is willing to come to terms with the past, the German state offered the Namibian state payments following the example of recent funding in the context of development cooperation – stretched over a period of 30 years. "Here, payments are simply redefined, but those who are actually affected will not benefit directly at all," Grossenbacher explained. "Real reparations would have to be paid to the descendants of the victims. However, the payments from Germany are going to the Namibian state." According to the UN guidelines on reparations (Resolution 2005) this should only be done if the respective receiving state has already paid compensations to the victims or their descendants.

Further, the Federal Government also claims that the Genocide Convention – signed by Germany in 1948 – is not relevant for a genocide that occurred between 1904 und 1908. "However, the convention states that all genocide crimes must be punished. There is no time limit," Grossenbacher added. Also, it is to be feared that the agreement with Namibia is supposed to function as a precedence case to ensure that the descendants of other genocide victims will not be granted reparations either.  

For the German Federal Government, the redeclaration of the payments has another advantage: payments in the context of development cooperation can be included in the country's 0.7 percent target – as the Federal Government pledged to invest 0,7 percent of gross national income in development cooperation. "Thus, the agreement – which is to be signed in Windhoek, Namibia, on September 7 – is very beneficial for the German state: The costs are fairly low, and the payments are stretched over a very long time period. Further, it brings the government close to a self-defined goal and serves to prevent real reparations," Grossenbacher summarized. "The actual genocide victims are overlooked once again. They are about to lose their right to reparations – in negotiations in which they were not even included properly."