Source: (2012) Buffalo Human Rights Law Review. 19:251-271.

This Article considers South Africa's experience with one such reparative measure: memorialization. Under the broad banner of symbolic reparations, 4 memorialization has gained increased credibility as one of the many forms of reparations that can assist post-conflict societies in coming to terms with the past. Various truth commissions, such as those established in Chile, South Africa, Liberia and Timor-Leste, have made recommendations for symbolic reparations initiatives within a broader reparations framework, noting its potential to contribute to processes of reconciliation, healing, victim recognition, and guarantees of non-repetition of past abuses.5 Whether memorialization initiatives in fact contribute to these ends nevertheless depends on multiple factors. In particular, as the South African experience suggests, such initiatives can be meaningful only if linked to other forms of reparation and part of a comprehensive package that includes compensation, rehabilitation, and increased access to health services and community reparation. Indeed, for most societies recovering from the aftermath of violence, there are a variety of competing needs-of individuals, the collective, and the state-that require constant mediation. Initiators of reparations programs seeking to achieve some of the social, psychological and political goals of reintegrating victims into society, rebuilding civic trust, and reestablishing equal conditions amongst citizens must take these competing needs into account in post-conflict reconstruction and transformation. (excerpt)