Date of publication: 2015
By David Danielson and Stephen Buchanan-Clarke
Beauty or the Beast: A Critique of Individual Reparations
This study considers whether reparations to individual victims for gross violations of their human rights are an effective aid to those most vulnerable. It briefly looks at the history of reparations before examining specific programmes in both the developed and developing world. This paper seeks to understand if individual reparations work, and, if not, what should be done. The question is not whether victims deserve help, but, rather, do individual reparations help? And where they provide much-needed relief, what is the offset measured by equally deserving victims who receive nothing or suffer additional direct harm from those payments? This study illustrates that individual reparations have found a home far away from the time of victim’s greatest needs. Unfortunately, providing reparations in an effort to make victims whole to the extent possible are typically delivered after a truth-telling mechanism is in place, after the reparations component of that process has been written setting forth commendably comprehensive plans, and after a process to determine entitlement has been designed and executed. This research suggests that governments and funding agencies ought to completely rethink this paradigm. The delivery of reparations should start promptly on the heels of the humanitarian aid intervention, well in front of the discussion on community healing through reconciliation.