Apologies for gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law: report


Published
12 July 2019
Issued by
The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence
Presented
At the 74th session of the GA

Background

The Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice reparations and guarantees of non-recurrence issued a report to address the issue of apologies for gross human rights violations and serious violations of international humanitarian law.

To inform the assessment, the Special Rapporteur consulted with experts and relevant stakeholders and held an open consultation. He thanked them and the respondents to his questionnaire for their contributions. The research informed his thematic report to the 74th session of the General Assembly in October 2019.

Summary

Public apologies constitute a form of ‘satisfaction’ that may be considered as reparation for harm suffered by victims. To be considered as such, public apologies must entail:

  1. an acknowledgement of a wrong deliberately or negligently inflicted that is named;
  2. a truthful admission of individual, organisational, or collective responsibility for that hurt;
  3. a public statement of remorse or regret related to the wrongful act\s or omission which is delivered with due respect, dignity and sensitivity to the victimised; and iv) a guarantee of non-recurrence.

The report adopts a victim-centred approach to apologies and a gender perspective on the issue.

The report analyses the legal framework and international jurisprudence on apologies, and assesses the existing practices and lessons learned (focusing on the issues of motivation for the apologies, acknowledgement and truth, timing, preparation of an apology, follow through, non-recurrence and reconciliation.

It concludes with a summary of the Special Rapporteur’s main findings and recommended actions for the design and implementation of effective apologies.

Inputs received

In order to obtain a broad representation of views to inform the thematic report, he gathered contributions from all relevant actors through responses to a questionnaire, available in EnglishFrench and Spanish.