If Germany Atoned for the Holocaust, the U.S. Can Pay Reparations for Slavery

Calls for reparations in the U.S. are generally met with skepticism: What would reparations achieve? Who should receive them, and under what conditions?

Other countries have tackled these questions. In 1995, South Africa established its Truth and Reconciliation Commission and paid reparations to the victims of apartheid. Eight years before, the United States apologized to 82,000 Japanese Americans unduly imprisoned during World War II and paid them US$20,000 each to compensate for their suffering.


Are amnesties in Latin America always a bad idea? ($)

Any civilised society must try to punish such horrors. But in ending internal conflicts, peace, reconciliation and truth are as important as justice. There is often a trade-off. Rebels and dictators often refuse to give up unless they are promised amnesty. Moral imperative is thus tempered by political feasibility. And the politics is not getting much easier.


Half-Truth and Reconciliation: After the Rwandan Genocide

Rwanda, Sundaram learned, was not the peaceful democracy it appeared to be. It was a state whose grip over the population subdued most citizens into silence or false flattery. Through the clarifying lens of this book, Rwanda appears not as a democracy making rapid progress after the horror of genocide, but as a disguised North Korea—a massively repressive dictatorship demanding slavish devotion to the leader, president Paul Kagame.

Rwanda & South Africa: a long road from truth to reconciliation

Reconciliation goes hand in hand with many other factors and generates many difficult questions. Who needs to be reconciled with whom? Who should initiate the process? Who should facilitate it? What should it look like? How do national and interpersonal movements towards reconciliation intersect, if at all? Can you reconcile when there’s no freedom? Justice? Equality? Redress?


The Life After: Fifteen years after the genocide in Rwanda, the reconciliation defies expectations.

Gacaca was designed to reward confessions, because the objective was not only to render rudimentary justice and mete out punishment but also to allow some emotional catharsis by establishing a collective accounting of the truth of the crimes in each place where they were committed. During a trial run of gacaca courts, in 2005, there were many reports of corrupt judges, and of intimidated witnesses, including an alarming number of cases in which genocide survivors were murdered before they could testify.


How can nations atone for their sins?

What is the ideal approach for a nation confronting its historical crimes? In dealing with historical guilt, are nations better off working to become “normal,” or should they strive to be “exceptional”? 

But is there a way out of this impasse? We will argue that the only way to make peace with a bloody history is through exceptionalism—reckoning with what is exceptional in your own country’s story, and finding, too, a distinct and homegrown way to face up to the truth and its consequences. Those consequences, and their lessons, will after all be different for different peoples.