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 526 - 550 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
15 February 2010 Vatican Victims of child sex abuse by Irish clergy

Vatican officials acknowledge the “enormous injustice and cruelty” inflicted on victims of child sex abuse by Irish clergy.

Pullella, Philip. “Vatican summit to acknowledge child sex abuse by Irish clergy.” Montreal Gazette. February 15, 2010.
19 February 2010 USA South Dakota - proclamation for a Year of Unity, Reconciliation

South Dakota Governor Mike Rounds issues a proclamation for a Year of Unity, commemorating the state’s Year of Reconciliation in 1990.

Severin, Jackelyn. “Year of Unity.” South Dakota Public Broadcasting. February 19, 2010.
24 February 2010 Destruction of Africville, Nova Scotia

Halifax Mayor Peter Kelly approves an apology and compensation for the destruction of the African American community of Africville, Nova Scotia in 1969

"Halifax apologizes for razing Africville." CBC. Feb. 24, 2010.
24 February 2010 British-“home children”

British Prime Minister Gordon Browne apologizes to “home children” for a government program that sent poor children from London abroad to labor in British colonies.

“British PM apologizes to ‘home children.’” www.cbc.ca. February 24, 2010.
14 March 2010 Israel apologizes for new housing in contested East Jerusalem

 Under pressure from the U.S., Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologizes for the timing of an announcement – but not the policy – of new housing in contested East Jerusalem.

Kershner, Isabel. “Netanyahu Offers Apology, but No Shift in Policy.” New York Times. March 14, 2010.
20 March 2010 Catholic Church victims of church sex abuse, expressing “shame and remorse

 Pope Benedict XVI apologizes to victims of church sex abuse, expressing “shame and remorse.”

Donadio, Rachel. “Pope Offers Apology, but No Punishment, for Clergy’s Abuse in Ireland.” New York Times. March 21, 2010.
30 March 2010 Serbia state’s failure to prevent the massacre of some 7,000 Bosnian Muslims

The Serbian parliament passes a resolution apologizing for the state’s failure to prevent the massacre of some 7,000 Bosnian Muslims by the Bosnian Serb Army at Srebrenicia in 1995.  The measure offers condolences to the families of the victims

Mackey, Robert. “Two Apologies, No Trial Over Srebrenicia.” New York Times. March 31, 2010.
9 April 2010 Canada New Brunswick lawsuit against the Canadian federal government

A coalition of three native groups in New Brunswick initiates a $13 billion lawsuit against the Canadian federal government for four centuries of alleged wrongs.

“Natives launch lawsuit.” Montreal Gazette. April 10, 2010.
12 June 2010 Catholic Church forgiveness for pedophile priest

At a mass, Pope Benedict XVI begs forgiveness for pedophile priest scandals in the Roman Catholic Church.

Doggett, Gina. “Pope begs forgiveness for ‘abuse of little ones.’” Montreal Gazette. June 12, 2010.
14 June 2010 Britain- killing of 14 unarmed demonstrators in Northern Ireland on “Bloody Sunday” in 1972.

 British Prime Minister David Cameron says “I am deeply sorry” for the killing of 14 unarmed demonstrators in Northern Ireland on “Bloody Sunday” in 1972.

Burns, John F. “Cameron Says 1972 N. Ireland Killings Were ‘Unjustified.’” New York Times. June 15, 2010.
23 June 2010 Canada apologizes for failing to prevent the terrorist bombing of an Air India airplane in 1985

 Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper apologizes for failing to prevent the terrorist bombing of an Air India airplane in 1985.

Harper’s speech quoted in National Post, 23 June 2010.
4 July 2010 India, state of Punjab seeks $150 million from Canada

In India, the state of Punjab seeks $150 million from Canada for refusing to let a shipload of 350 Indian passengers disembark in Vancouver in 1914, even though the passengers had paid an entry fee.

Dawson, Fabian. “Indian state seeks millions from Ottawa.” Montreal Gazette. July 4, 2010.
5 July 2010 Turkey’s foreign minister demands that Israel apologize

 Turkey’s foreign minister demands that Israel apologize for a deadly raid on a ship bound for Gaza in May.  Israel indicates it has no intentions of issuing a formal apology

Villelabeitia, Ibon. “Turkey demands Israeli apology.” Montreal Gazette. July 6, 2010.
18 August 2010 Canada relocating Inuit families to the High Arctic in the 1950s

The Canadian government apologizes for relocating Inuit families to the High Arctic in the 1950s.

Chai, Carmen. “Canada apologizes for ‘dark chapter.’” Montreal Gazette. August 19, 2010
31 August 2010 Republican House foreign policy of the United States platform of apologies,

  In a speech at the annual convention of the American Legion, Republican House Leader Rep. John Boehner says, “The foreign policy of the United States should not be built on a platform of apologies, corrections and reset buttons.”

http://archive.legion.org/bitstream/handle/123456789/174/2010ConvPDFA.pdf?sequence=2, p54.
2 September 2010 Cuba discrimination against homosexuals

Cuban leader Fidel Castro expresses regret for discrimination against homosexuals in the 1960s and 1970s.

“Castro admits marginalizing homosexuals.” Montreal Gazette. September 2, 2010.
17 September 2010 Japan apology for the inhuman treatment” of U.S. POWs

At a visit by survivors, Japan’s foreign minister offered a “deep, heartfelt apology for the inhuman treatment” of U.S. POWs during World War II.  However, 60 companies that had forced the men to work did not apologize.

Associated Press. “Former US POWs Want Japanese Company Apology.” New York Times. September 17, 2010.
19 September 2010 Catholic church-child abuse

At a mass in England, Pope Benedict XVI expresses sorrow over the “unspeakable crimes” of child abuse within the Roman Catholic Church.

Burns, John F. “Facing Protests in London, Pope Expresses Sorrow Over Child Sex Abuse.” New York Times. September 19, 2010.
25 September 2010 China- Japan - trawler captain arrested near disputed islands

China demands that Japan apologize for detaining a trawler captain arrested near disputed islands; Japan refuses to apologize.

Fackler, Martin. “Japan Rejects Apologizing to China.” New York Times. September 26, 2010.
October 2010 Pakistan for mistakes made by Musharraf

Exiled former Prime Minister Pervez Musharraf apologizes to Pakistan for mistakes he made in office.

“Pakistan Issues Arrest Warrant for Musharraf in Bhutto’s Killing.” New York Times. February 13, 2011.
24 October 2010 Canada, “Toronto 18” terrorist cell apologizes for actions

 In Canada, the leader of the “Toronto 18” terrorist cell apologizes for his actions.

Teotonio, Elixabeth. “Tornoto 18 terror cell ringleader to be sentenced.” www.thestar.com. October 24, 2010.
13 November 2010 France rail company expresses regret for transporting over 75,000 Jews to death camps

 France’s national rail company the SNCF expresses regret for transporting over 75,000 Jews to death camps in World War II.

Szeftel, Eve. “France’s SNCF apologizes for role in Holocaust.” Montreal Gazette. November 13, 2010.
26 November 2010 Russia Stalin responsible for Katyn massacre

The Russian Duma declares Josef Stalin responsible for the “terrible tragedy” of the Katyn massacre of 22,000 Polish officers in 1940.  The Polish prime minister welcomed the resolution as a step towards reconciliation.

Zaks, Dmitry. “Stalin ordered Katyn massacre, Russia admits.” Montreal Gazette. November 27, 2010.
21 January 2011 Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier expresses “sadness” – but no apology – for people who suffered under his 15-year rule

Former Haitian dictator Jean-Claude (Baby Doc) Duvalier expresses “sadness” – but no apology – for people who suffered under his 15-year rule.

Delva, Joseph Guyler. “’Sadness’ – but no apology.” Montreal Gazette. January 22, 2011.
21 January 2011 Tunisia announces a blanket amnesty for all political groups

One week after the end of the 23-year old rule of Zine al-Abidine Ban Ali, the new government of Tunisia announces a blanket amnesty for all political groups.

Noueihed, Lin and Christian Lowe. “Tunisia grants blanket amnesty.” Montreal Gazette. January 21, 2011.