Political Apologies

AHDA Political Apology

How does the act of apologizing enable societies to come to terms with their past?

Political apologies can be a powerful tool in the re-examination of a nation's history, and the significance this history has on democratic processes. The project includes a working list of political apologies throughout history that political scientist Graham Dodds has researched and compiled.

This is a working list of major political apologies and related events. The selection criteria for compiling the list are somewhat loose, but the intent is to include any and all apologies that involve states, nations, or major political groups and actors, generally for significant public wrongs. Thus, apologies by individual politicians for more narrow matters (e.g., alleged personal or criminal failings) are generally excluded.

Should you wish to add to the list, please e-mail ahda@columbia.edu.

Displaying 451 - 475 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
22 July 2006 Canada- the treatment of Chinese immigrants in imposing a head tax

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes unreservedly for the treatment of Chinese immigrants in imposing a head tax

Mulgrew, Ian. “Harper’s head-tax apology.” Montreal Gazette. June 23, 2006.
27 July 2006 Israel-UN Israeli bomb attack in Lebanon that killed four peacekeepers

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert apologizes to UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan for an Israeli bomb attack in Lebanon that killed four peacekeepers.

“Post Hit Despite Pleas.” Montreal Gazette. July 27, 2006. pA1.
16 August 2006 Britain pardons over 300 soldiers executed for cowardice in World War I.

 Britain pardons over 300 soldiers executed for cowardice in World War I

“WWI deserters receive pardon.” Montreal Gazette. November 8, 2006.
27 August 2006 Israel -Reuters journalists attack in Gaza.

The Israeli army apologizes for attacking a vehicle operated by Reuters journalists in Gaza.

Al-Mughrabi, Nidal. “Air strike hits news SUV in Gaza.” Montreal Gazette. August 27, 2006.
30 August 2006 Japan- Chinese women forced into sex slavery during World War II

A Japanese court rejected demands for an apology and compensation for Chinese women forced into sex slavery during World War II.

“Japan: No payout for Chinese sex slaves.” Montreal Gazette. August 31, 2006.
8 September 2006 Chile- dictator Augusto Pinochet stripped of immunity from prosecution

 Chile’s supreme court strips former dictator Augusto Pinochet of immunity from prosecution.

“Pinochet loses immunity in rights case.” Montreal Gazette. September 9, 2006. pA27
16 September 2006 Pope Benedict XVI remarks on Islam

Pope Benedict XVI regrets his recent remarks on Islam and violence that were offensive to Muslims.

Fisher, Ian. “Vatican Says Pope Benedict Regrets Offending Muslims.” New York Times. September 17, 2006.
20 September 2006 Canada- Maher Arar deportation from the U.S. to be tortured in Syria

The Canadian House of Commons unanimously apologizes to Maher Arar for permitting his deportation from the U.S. to be tortured in Syria.

Sallot, Jeff and Colin Freeze. “House apologizes for Arar’s treatment.” Globe and Mail. Septmeber 22, 2006.
14 October 2006 30 Muslim clerics sign a letter accepting the apology of Pope Benedict XVI

30 Muslim clerics sign a letter accepting the apology of Pope Benedict XVI for controversial remarks he made about Islam.

“38 Muslim clerics accept pope’s apology.” Montreal Gazette. October 14, 2006
7 November 2006 Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein -calls for national reconciliation

Shortly after being sentenced to hang, former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein calls for national reconciliation, saying, “I call upon all Iraqis, Arabs and Kurds, to forgive, reconcile, and shake hands.” He also recounts how the prophet Mohammed and Jesus Christ both forgave their enemies.

Daragahi, Borzou. “Forgive and forget, Saddam says.” Montreal Gazette. November 8, 2006.
20 November 2006 NATO apologizes for civilian casualties in a raid

 NATO apologizes for civilian casualties in a raid.

Graveland, Bill. “NATO apologizes for civilian casualties.” Montreal Gazette. November 21, 2006.
25 November 2006 Chile- Augusto Pinochet accepts responsibility for wrongs

 Former Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet accepts responsibility for wrongs committed during his 18-year rule.

“Pinochet ‘takes responsibility.’” www.bbc.com. November 25, 2006.
25 February 2007 USA-Virginia state’s role in slavery

Virginia’s state legislature passes a resolution expressing “profound regret” over the state’s role in slavery.

Maryland issues apology for its role in slavery.” Associated Press. March 27, 2007.
1 March 2007 Japan-women were forced into military brothels across Asia during World War II

 In a reversal of Japan’s acknowledgement of wrongdoing in 1993, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe denies that women were forced into military brothels across Asia during World War II.

Mizoguchi, Kozo. “WWII comfort women weren’t sex slaves: Japan.” Montreal Gazette. March 2, 2007.
19 March 2007 USA politicized firing of eight federal attorneys in 2006

U.S. Attorney General Alberto Gonzales apologizes for the politicized firing of eight federal attorneys in 2006.

Eggen, Dan. “Gonzales issues mea culpa.” Montreal Gazette. March 19, 2007.
25 March 2007 British- Prime Minister Tony Blair to urged to apologize

 The Archbishop of York (England) urges British Prime Minister Tony Blair to apologize – not merely express sorrow and regret – for Britain’s role in slavery.  

26 March 2007 Britain “deep sorrow and regret” for Britain’s role in slavery

U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair expresses “deep sorrow and regret” for Britain’s role in slavery.

Ward, David. “Archbishop of York urges PM to apologise for slavery.” The Guardian. March 26, 2007.
27 March 2007 USA-Maryland’s state legislature issues an apology for slavery

 Maryland’s state legislature issues an apology for slavery

“Maryland issues apology for its role in slavery.” Associated Press. March 27, 2007.
27 March 2007 Japan apologizes for the use of sexual slavery

After weeks of criticism for refusing to acknowledge that Japan forced some 200,000 women from Korean and China to serve in military brothels in World War II (even though Japan had apologized for this in 1993), Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe apologizes for the use of sexual slavery.

“Japan: PM sorry for sex slaves.” Montreal Gazette. March 27, 2007. pA15.
28 March 2007 Queen Elizabeth - apology for slavery

At a service to mark the 200th anniversary of Britain’s abolishment of the slave trade, a protestor approaches Queen Elizabeth and demands that she personally apologize for slavery.

Millard, Robin. “Abolition Service Disrupted.” Montreal Gazette. 3/28/07.
28 March 2007 Canada-settlement with survivors of Indian residential schools

The Canadian government announces that it will not include an apology in its settlement with survivors of Indian residential schools.

Curry, Bill. “No residential school apology, Tories say.” Globe and Mail. March 27, 2007.
30 March 2007 U.S. - veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center

U.S. President George W. Bush apologizes for bad conditions and the neglect of veterans at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.

Loven, Jennifer. “Bush apologizes for hospital mess.” Montreal Gazette. March 31, 2007.
24 April 2007 USA - Slavery

The Alabama state House and Senate pass resolutions expressing regret for slavery.

“Senate, House pass slavery-apology resolutions.” The Birmingham News. April 24, 2007.
2 May 2007 Canada apology for abuses at Indian residential schools.

The Canadian House of Commons unanimously endorses a motion to apologize for abuses at Indian residential schools.  (Conservatives reversed their previous refusal to apologize.)

Samyn, Paul. “All parties endorse apology for residential-school abuse.” Montreal Gazette. 5/2/07.
23 May 2007 Pope Benedict- “unjustified crimes” committed during colonization

Pope Benedict acknowledged that “unjustified crimes” were committed during colonization in the Americas, but he stopped short of apologizing.

Stewart, Phil. “Pope acknowledges colonial injustice in Americas.” Montreal Gazette. May 24, 2007.