Fact Check

Obama-Led U.N. Has Just Made It Official, U.S. to Immediately Pay Blacks 'Reparations'

Untrustworthy web sites reported that at President Obama's behest, the United Nations ordered the U.S. to pay reparations to African Americans for slavery.

Published Dec 20, 2016

 (Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com)
Image Via Everett Historical / Shutterstock.com
Led by President Obama, the United Nations ordered the U.S. to pay reparations to African Americans for slavery.

In December 2016, various partisan web sites posted articles whose headlines declared that the United Nations, "led" by President Barack Obama, had ordered or demanded that the United States pay reparations to all African Americans for slavery. None of these articles, however, contained any actual reporting that matched these claims.

Freedom Daily, for example, ran what was essentially an editorial masquerading as a news report:

A United Nations panel in Geneva wants the United States to pay African Americans reparations for slavery.

Sure, right after African Americans pay for burning down Los Angeles, Ferguson, and whatever other cities they destroyed.

And right after that happens, let’s find all the African Americans who are over 151 years old, which means they were probably slaves before 1865, and send them a check if there’s any difference left over after they pay for rioted cities to be fixed.

Sounds just about as dumb as a doorknob, right?

The only part of the article that states anything resembling a fact is the first paragraph, wherein it's claimed that a United Nations panel concluded that the U.S. owes reparations to descendants of American slaves. The United Nations' Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent presented just such a conclusion to the U.N. Human Rights Council in September 2016. There was nothing legally binding about the panel's opinion, however. The United Nations doesn't have the authority to force the United States to do its bidding.

Moreover, the United Nations isn't "led" by U.S. President Barack Obama (the current Secretary-General of the U.N. is Ban Ki-moon of South Korea, to be succeeded as of January 2017 by António Guterres of Portugal).

Nor has President Obama expressed support for the idea of reparations — he has repeatedly argued against it, in fact, as exemplified in this statement from 2007:

I fear that reparations would be an excuse for some to say 'we’ve paid our debt' and to avoid the much harder work of enforcing our anti-discrimination laws in employment and housing; the much harder work of making sure that our schools are not separate and unequal; the much harder work of providing job training programs and rehabilitating young men coming out of prison every year; and the much harder work of lifting 37 million Americans of all races out of poverty.

Although the idea of reparations for slavery is frequently (and hotly) debated across America, has been for years, and surely will be for many to come, there exists neither a plan for implementing them nor the expectation that such a plan will come to pass in the foreseeable future, much less "immediately."


Darity, William A.   "How Barack Obama Failed Black Americans." The Atlantic.   22 December 2016.

Tharoor, Ishaan.   "U.S. Owes Black People Reparations for a History of 'Racial Terrorism,' Says U.N. Panel." The Washington Post.   27 September 2016.

Associated Press.   "Obama Opposes Reparations for Slavery." 2 August 2008

David Emery is a West Coast-based writer and editor with 25 years of experience fact-checking rumors, hoaxes, and contemporary legends.