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The question of an apology: Reconciliation and civility.

Grace, Damien
June 4, 2015

Source: (2001) Australian Journal of Human Rights. 7(1): 77-90. Downloaded 16 November 2005.

Reconciliation is a complicated but not intractable matter. Its realisation will depend on context, history, and a desired
destination. If it were like a contract, then we might look to the terms of the contract to tell when it had been achieved.
But it is not like a contract. If it were about recognizing legal rights, then reconciliation might already have been
achieved by the fiat of parliaments and the decisions of the courts. But it is not a remedy for broken political machinery
that can be ‘fixed’ by legal mechanics. Reconciliation is closer to a social movement or process, whose character is
moral rather than legal. For although the rule of law and the regime of rights attached to it support the fabric of everyday
life in democracies, law and rights require something prior, and that is the bonds that form a community. Those bonds
are complex, but they are expressed in the trust and confidence of citizens in their political institutions, and in the civility
with which a society conducts itself. (excerpt)


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