Minimum Legal Standards in Reparation processes for Colonial Crimes: The Case of Namibia and Germany

German Law Journal, Forthcoming

28 Pages Posted: 26 Jun 2023 Last revised: 28 Jun 2023

Date Written: June 23, 2023


In 2021, the German and Namibian governments published a Joint Declaration as a result of their negotiations on reparations. Ovaherero and Nama representatives strongly criticized the violation of their participation rights during the negotiations and the reproduction of colonial racism. In 2023, a court case was filed with the Namibian High Court. This litigation could become a milestone in the history of fights for reparations for colonial crimes worldwide. In addition, several United Nations Special Rapporteurs were contacted and published their joint communication in April 2023, essentially confirming the lack of effective participation and the obligation to grant reparations.

In my article, I give an overview of the most important historical events during German colonial rule and the most significant efforts to legally come to terms with it since 2006. Then I analyze the main legal issues from a decolonial perspective: Have the acts committed by German colonial troops violated the laws in force at the time? Is the current interpretation of the doctrine of intertemporal law by the governments a reproduction of racism? Does the German state have a legal obligation to enter into negotiations over reparations?

My aim is to contribute decolonial perspectives to current debates on international law and to establish minimum legal standards for reparations processes for colonial crimes worldwide.

Keywords: Decolonization Reparations Colonialism Intertemporal Law

Suggested Citation

Theurer, Karina, Minimum Legal Standards in Reparation processes for Colonial Crimes: The Case of Namibia and Germany (June 23, 2023). German Law Journal, Forthcoming , Available at SSRN:

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