Back to RJ Archive

Repairing Historical Wrongs and the End of Empire

Butt, Daniel
June 4, 2015

Source: (2012) Social & Legal studies 21(2) 227-242

This article addresses the claim that some contemporary states may possess obligations
to pay reparations as a result of the lasting effects of colonialism. Claims about the harms
and benefits caused by colonialism must make some kind of comparison between the
world as it currently is, and a counterfactual state where the injustice which characterized
so much of the historic interaction between colonizers and the colonized did
not occur. Rather than imagining a world where there was no interaction between such
communities, this article maintains that the appropriate counterfactual state is one
whereby relations between different communities took place in a context characterized
by an absence of domination and exploitation. The conclusion is that there are good
reasons to go beyond a focus on symbolic reparations and hold that many affluent
contemporary states possess extensive but unfulfilled duties of rectificatory justice to
some of the world’s poorest peoples.


AbstractCourtsPrisonsRJ in SchoolsStatutes and Legislation
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now