Transitional Justice and Reparations: Remedying the Past?
in Research Handbook on Transitional Justice (Dov Jacobs ed., Edward Elgar, 2015 Forthcoming)
42 Pages Posted: 15 Feb 2015 Last revised: 24 Apr 2015
Date Written: February 13, 2015
Reparations are often considered victim-centred transitional justice measures. While they have their basis in private law notions of corrective justice and human rights principles of remedy, politics and economic resources often shape reparations in times of transition. Reparations in transitional justice often take time and require revisiting as society becomes conscious of previously hidden or marginalised victims. Added to this is the challenge of delimiting who are eligible, contested victimhood, and when does the transition end. This raises questions of whether reparations are appropriate for historical violations caused by colonial governments or slavery. The chapter examines individual and collective reparations, apportionment amongst family members, reparation processes and mechanisms, as well as evidential and financial concerns. Although public resources may be limited in provided full compensatory awards to all victims, small sums or pensions along with public acknowledgement of victims’ suffering, wrongfulness of the perpetrators and institutions’ acts, along with guarantees of non-repetition can be ‘good enough’. This chapter argues that despite the political wrangling of reparations during transition, the right to reparations in international law reflects the necessity of states delivering reparations to victims of serious violations.
Keywords: Reparations, victims, transitional justice, International Criminal Court
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