Political apologies and their challenges in achieving justice for indigenous peoples in Australia and Canada

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Abstract

In the last 25 years we have witnessed the rise of official apologies. These apologies can advance national reconciliation and justice for victims. They also require the introduction of other reparative measures to overcome the practical effects of past injustices and ensure against their repetition.

Unfortunately, however, this is not how these apologies usually work in practice. As the article argues, state apologies function in a paradoxical way. In making apologies states seek to acknowledge and accept responsibility for past wrongs; at the same time, states use them to limit their liability. The apologies made in Australia and Canada to Indigenous peoples in 2008 will be examined in view of this analysis. Ultimately, the article argues that while these apologies seem to be addressing past wrongs, they have done little to change the status quo. In advancing these claims, the article emphasizes the importance of history to the apology-making process.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)277-303
Number of pages27
JournalOñati Socio-legal Series
Volume7
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Bibliographical note

Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.

Keywords

  • colonization
  • Indigenous peoples
  • political apologies
  • reparative justice
  • reconciliation

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