Historical Injustices, Reparations and International Law

Completed in October 2016

Since the end of World War II, claims for reparations for historical injustices (including the Holocaust, the oppression of indigenous peoples in Australia, New Zealand and the United States, as well as the enduring legacy of slavery and institutional racism among African Americans) have become a central element of national politics and international diplomacy.

Investigating the Relevance of International Law

This project, funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF), investigated the relevance of international law in relation to such demands for reparation.

While the topic of reparation has increasingly become the focus of scholarly interest, a holistic approach to this issue, combining theoretical notions of international law with considerations of practicality and morality, is still largely missing in the literature. This project intended to fill this gap by providing a comprehensive assessment of victims’ reparations claims in light of recent developments in international law. At the same time it payed special attention to the legal and moral dilemmas that may arise in the process of shaping and implementing reparations programmes – especially in situations of transition from civil war and dictatorship towards peace and democracy.

TEAM

Picture of Frank Haldemann

Frank Haldemann

Co-Director of the Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Frank Haldemann's expertise and research focus on transitional justice, human rights and legal philosophy.

Picture of Valentina Cadelo

Valentina Cadelo

Academic Coordinator and Teaching Assistant for the Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Her research focuses on international human rights law and transitional justice and particularly concerns reparation for gross violations of human rights and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

Picture of Rachelle Kouassi

Rachelle Kouassi

OUTPUT

Conducted between 2011 and 2016, this research has involved two PhD projects: one of a normative nature, concerned with the legal foundations and limits of a right to reparation; the other more empirical, exploring the practice of reparation programmes. The results of the research have been published in a number of scientific articles, contributions and book chapters (see below).

Moreover, a number of workshops and conferences were organized to enable a wider scholarly debate related to the various research topics covered by the project.

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Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law: What our Students Say

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In this interview, Clarita Montant, a French-American and Salvadorian student enrolled in the Master in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.

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2017 Transitional Spring School: group photo of all participants in front of the Villa Moynier News

Successful First Transitional Justice Spring School

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During one week, from 3 to 7 April 2017, the 33 participants in the first Transitional Justice Spring School discussed the roles of culture and memory in transitional justice contexts, a relatively unexplored field of transitional justice.

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U.S. Ambassador Keith Harper, after the presentation of the report to the Human Rights Council September 27 by independent experts: Mr. Pablo de Greiff, Mr. Christof Heyns, Ms. Maya Sahli-Fadel. Project

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As a comprehensive attempt to ‘codify’ universal accountability norms, the UN Principles marked a significant step forward in the debate on the obligation of states to combat impunity in its various forms. Despite this significance, no comprehensive academic commentary of the 38 principles has yet been provided so far. This project seeks to fill this gap.

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