The Role of Reparations in Transition to Democracy

Jul 6, 2004

Executive Summary

There has been much attention to what Germany, Chile, Argentina, South Africa, and other countries that undergo transitions to democracy have tried to do by way of prosecutions -- but not enough attention to their efforts by way of reparations. Yet from the standpoint of the victims, argues Pablo de Greiff of the International Center for Transitional Justice reparations programs occupy a special place in a transition to democracy. Indeed, they are the most tangible manifestation of the efforts of the state to remedy the harms that these victims have suffered.

Pablo de Greiff's presentation is informed by both theory and practice. While preparing, along with his colleagues at ICTJ, a comprehensive study of reparations cases worldwide, entitled Repairing the Past: Compensation for Human Rights Violations, he was also involved in the design of various reparations programs, and acted as an advisor to the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission on its reparations recommendations.

He examines what justice in reparations can and should mean when its aim is to repair a large number of cases, as opposed to individual, isolated cases. In this context, he argues, the idea of compensation in proportion to harm raises insurmountable problems. Hence, there is a need to reconceptualize fairness in reparations in terms of how reparations programs serve to promote the goals of recognizing victims, promoting civic trust, and fostering social solidarity.

KEY CONTENTS

  • The meaning of the term "reparations," distinguishing between two spheres of use: international law and massive reparations programs

  • The advantages and disadvantages of the two definitions

  • What constitutes justice in reparations

  • Difficulties in applying full restitution to cases of massive violations

  • Problems of case-by-case application of full restitution to mass violations

  • Justice in mass reparations: a proposal

  • Discussion

You may also like

APR 11, 2024 Podcast

The Ubiquity of An Aging Global Elite, with Jon Emont

"Wall Street Journal" reporter Jon Emont joins "The Doorstep" to discuss the systems and structures that keep aging leaders in power in autocracies and democracies.

APR 9, 2024 Video

Algorithms of War: The Use of AI in Armed Conflict

From Gaza to Ukraine, the military applications of AI are fundamentally reshaping the ethics of war. How should policymakers navigate AI’s inherent trade-offs?

MAR 28, 2024 Podcast

The Humanization of Warfare: Ethics, Law, and Civilians in Conflict

This panel explored emerging ethical and legal questions surrounding the humanization of warfare, touching on issues of international law, just war, and civilian protection.

Not translated

This content has not yet been translated into your language. You can request a translation by clicking the button below.

Request Translation