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 301 - 325 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
7 February 2002 The Hausa community Nigeria, apologizes to Governor Bola Tinubu for ethnic violence

 The Hausa community in Idi-Araba, Nigeria, apologizes to Governor Bola Tinubu for ethnic violence in which over 100 people were killed.

“The Hausa Apology for Idi-Araba Crisis.” Africa News Service. March 11, 2002.
27 February 2002 European Union -Zimbabwe imposition of sanctions

European Union official Chris Patten apologizes to the people of Zimbabwe for the imposition of sanctions on February 18.

“Patten’s Apology Deficient.” Africa News Service. March 2, 2002.
13 March 2002 Malaysia- U.S. Time Magazine February 11 edition.

The Malaysian cabinet accepts an apology from U.S. Time Magazine for an unflattering depiction of the country in its February 11 edition.

“Malaysia Accepts Apology From Time Magazine.” Xinhua News Agency. March 13, 2002.
29 March 2002 Catholic Church apology to victims of sexual abuse

 As part of a settlement of a lawsuit brought by 23 former altar boys who were molested by a priest, Oregon Archbishop John Vlazny issues a public apology to victims of sexual abuse.

“Accusers say church rarely offers sincere, simple apology.” National Catholic Reporter. March 29, 2002.
24 April 2002 Catholic Church apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by priests

 Pope John Paul II apologizes to victims of sexual abuse by priests.

Henneberger, Melinda. “Pope offers apology to victims of sex abuse by priests.” New York Times. April 11, 2002.
29 April 2002 Austria apologizes for a clinic at Am Spiegelgrund

 Austria apologizes for a clinic at Am Spiegelgrund in which 789 mentally handicapped children were subjected to medical experiments and murder during the Nazi regime.

Erlanger, Steven. “Vienna buries child victims of Nazis.” New York Times. April 29, 2002.
May 2002 USA-Sterilization program “shameful.

Virginia Governor Mark Warner calls the state’s past sterilization program “shameful.”

Nobles, Melissa. The Politics of Official Apologies. Cambridge, 2008. p160.
23 May 2002 Japan-Chinese police forcibly removing five North Korean asylum seekers

 Japan’s Foreign Ministry asks the Chinese ambassador to apologize for Chinese police forcibly removing five North Korean asylum seekers from Japan’s consulate in northeast China on May 8.

“Japan Still Seeking Chinese Apology.” United Press International. May 23, 2002.
29 May 2002 Nigeria-rights abuses by previous governments

 Nigerian President Chief Olusegun Obasanjo apologizes to Nigerians for years of rights abuses by previous governments, on the occasion of the country’s third anniversary of establishing democracy.

“Obasanjo’s Apology.” Africa News Service. June 5, 2002.
31 May 2002 Catholic Church for an inappropriate sexual relationship in the 1970’s.

 Former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert G. Weakland apologizes for an inappropriate sexual relationship in the 1970’s.

“Archbishop Weakland Makes Public Apology for ‘My Sinfulness.’” America. June 17, 2002.
5 June 2002 Uruguay Argentina apology for remarks made

Uruguay President Jorge Batlle apologizes to his Argentine counterpart, Eduardo Duhalde, for calling Argentina's politicians “a pack of thieves, from the first to the last.”

Rohter, Larry. “Uruguay: an apology to Argentina.” New York Times. June 5, 2002:
20 June 2002 The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) -AOL Time Warner Palestinian suicide bombers

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) accepts a written apology from AOL Time Warner Vice Chairman Ted Turner for his comments in a London newspaper justifying Palestinian suicide bombers.

“ADL Welcomes Apology From Ted Turner.” US Newswire. June 20, 2002.
23 June 2002 Catholic Church sexual abuses

Los Angeles Cardinal Roger Mahony apologizes to church members for sexual abuses by priests and asks for forgiveness.

Jones, Arthur. “Lon Angeles churches hear cardinal’s apology.” National Catholic Reporter. July 5, 2002.
24 June 2002 The Quebec- British monarchy to admit responsibility for the deportation of Acadians

The Quebec National Assembly unanimously votes to ask the British monarchy to admit responsibility for the deportation of Acadians in the 1750s and 1760s.

“Asking for an apology.” Maclean’s. June 24, 2002.
13 July 2002 Iran calls on the United States to apologize

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami calls on the United States to apologize to the Iranian people for its “misdeeds in the past.

“Iran’s Khatami calls for U.S. apology.” United Press International. July 14, 2002.
16 July 2002 The Irish Republican Army apologizes for civilian deaths

 The Irish Republican Army apologizes for civilian deaths over its thirty year struggle to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

Lavery, Brian. “I.R.A. Apologizes for Civilian Deaths in Its 30-Year Campaign.” New York Times. July 17, 2002. pA5.
30 July 2002 Pakistan expresses regrets for the deaths of nearly 3 million people

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf expresses regrets for the deaths of nearly 3 million people during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.  At a war memorial near Dhaka, Musharraf writes in a visitors’ book, “Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the events of 1971.  The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable.

Anam, Tahmima. “Pakistan’s State of Denial.” New York Times. December 26, 2013.
12 August 2002 National Public Radio (NPR), apologizes To Traditional Values Coalition (TVC)

 Kevin Klose, president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio (NPR), apologizes for a story suggesting that the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a conservative group with 43,000 member churches, was linked to anthrax-laced letters sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

“NPR apology unacceptable to Christian-values group.” Insight on the News. August 12, 2002.
14 August 2002 Japan expresses regrets about Japan’s past aggression

 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expresses regrets about Japan’s past aggression.

Greimel, Hans. “Japan’s leader steers clear of war shrine.” New York Times. August 15, 2002.
21 August 2002 The Independent National Electoral Commission- All Nigeria Peoples Party dispute

The Independent National Electoral Commission demands an apology from the leadership of the All Nigeria Peoples Party over the party's allegation that the commission was responsible for problems at its convention on July 27, 2002.

“INEC Demands Apology from ANPP.” Africa News Service. August 22, 2002.
September 2002 North Korean-Japan kidnapped Japanese civilians

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledges that North Korean agents kidnapped Japanese civilians in order to assume their identities and apologizes for the deaths of eight of the victims

French, Howard. “Plot Confirmed, Japan Feels No Less Pain.” New York Times. September 28, 2002.
13 September 2002 Bishop Charles G. Palmer-Buckle Of Ghana apologizes on behalf of Africans for the part Africans themselves played in the slave trade

Bishop Charles G. Palmer-Buckle Of Ghana apologizes on behalf of Africans for the part Africans themselves played in the slave trade.

“Ghanaian bishop offers apology for Africans’ part in slave trade.” National Catholic Reporter. September 13, 2002.
21 September 2002 Germany-USA President George W. Bush's Iraq tactics

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder apologizes for remarks by German Justice Minister Herta Daubler-Gmelin that compared President George W. Bush's Iraq tactics to Hitler's tactics.

Erlanger, Steven. “Apology aside, German vote has U.S. hinge.” New York Times. September 21, 2002.
25 September 2002 president Bush apology to Senate Democrats special Interests-national security

Senate leader Tom Daschle demands that President Bush apologize for suggesting that Senate Democrats care more about special interests than national security.

Purdum, Todd S. “Daschle defends Democrats’ stand on security of U.S.” New York Times. September 26, 2002.
3 October 2002 Chicago passes “The Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance,”

 At the urging of Ald. Dorothy Tillman, Chicago passes “The Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance,” requiring business involved in city contracts to determine whether they profited from slavery.

Miller, Sabrina and Gary Washburn. “New Chicago law requires firms to tell slavery links.” Chicago Tribune. October 3, 2002.