The Role of Civil Society Actors in Reparations Legislation
Redressing Injustices Through Mass Claims Processes (Permanent Court of Arbitration ed., 2006)
26 Pages Posted: 2 Nov 2012
Date Written: October 30, 2006
In an attempt to address the harm suffered by victims of human rights abuse, civil society groups have come to play an increasingly large and critically important role in the development of reparations legislation. Through their unique knowledge of victims’ experiences as well as their financial, organizational and personnel resources, these groups influence transitional governments to enact legislation to benefit previously disenfranchised victim populations. Civil society groups are involved in a number of different aspects of reparations legislation including the drafting of laws and amendments, the giving of legal advice to victims and lawmakers alike, and the raising of public and media awareness on issues concerning material and symbolic reparations.
This article discusses three case studies of civil society groups in Germany, Argentina and South Africa. Analysis of the dilemmas faced by these groups reveals their various motivations, strategies and actions relating to the implementation of reparations legislation. Through their personal connection with victims and extensive knowledge of human rights abuse, civil society groups are uniquely situated to develop pragmatic solutions to governmental obstacles. While civil society groups are not without their shortcomings, an analysis of their methods is instructive for future activists hoping to influence reparations legislation. This article concludes that civil society groups’ inclusion of victims in the development of reparations legislation is essential to their past and future success.
Keywords: human rights, civil society groups, reparations
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