Source: (2009) Research Brief. June. New York: Center for Transitional Justice.

In situations of large-scale violence and repression, reparations are best conceptualized as rights-based political projects aimed at giving victims due recognition and at enhancing civic trust both among citizens and between citizens and state institutions. This paper explores, in the light of two case studies, some of the goals, expectations and limitations of reparations as means of redressing identity-based injustice and setting the terms for a more just political order. What do reparations require when we are talking about people who, as is often the case with indigenous peoples, have traditionally been denied equal citizenship status, have experienced long-term, systematic marginalization and who may resist standard notions of citizenship? We argue that the process of creating as well as the content of reparations policies should, first, affirm the commonality of members of indigenous groups as citizens and holders of basic human rights. It should also affirm their condition as members of sub-state groups with distinct cultures and/or communal forms of life. While both Peru and Guatemala took steps to satisfy both of these criteria, the case studies show the limits of what even a well-crafted reparations program can do in terms of providing due redress to victims. They further illustrate that there are limitations to taking even modest steps toward transformation absent a serious commitment on the part of the state and ruling non-indigenous elites to the wider transformations that crafting a more inclusive political order would entail. (excerpt)