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 676 - 700 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
2 October 2016 Philippine apology to Jews

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte apologizes to Jews for comparing his campaign against illegal drugs to the Holocaust

Associated Press. “Philippine president apologizes to Jews for Hitler remark.” Los Angeles Times. October 2, 2016.
4 October 2016 Italian apology for Dante

The town council of Gubbio, Italy apologizes for its part in persecuting the poet Dante over 700 years ago

“Italian town apologizes for its part in persecuting Dante, 700 years after the poet’s expulsion from Florence.” The Telegraph. October 4, 2016.
17 October 2016 Police apology for race

The head of International Association of Chiefs of Police apologizes to racial minorities for past mistreatment by police.

Williams, Timothy. “Official Apologizes for Police Role in Mistrust by Minorities.” New York Times. October 17, 2016.
20 October 2016 British apology to gay men

Via a law named after Alan Turing, Great Britain posthumously pardons tens of thousands of gay men who were convicted of having or seeking to have sex.

“Britain’s Step Toward Justice for Gay Men.” New York Times. Oct 23, 2016.
27 October 2016 Russia apologizes to the families of dozens of hostages

Russian President Vladimir Putin apologizes on television to the families of dozens of hostages who died when special forces gassed the theater where they were being held by Chechen rebels.

“Hostage victims died from gas.” cnn.com. October 27, 2002.
31 October 2016 Pope calls for admission of errors

Marking the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, Pope Francis says Catholics and Lutherans should admit their errors of the past that divided Christians.

Associated Press. “The Latest: Pope urges Catholics, Lutherans to admit errors.” The Bristol Herald Courier. October 31, 2016.
4 November 2016 Catholic apology for forced adoptions.

The head of the Catholic Church in England and Wales apologizes for its role in forcing over a half million unmarried mothers to give up their children for adoption between 1945 and 1976.

Schmidt, Samantha. “Church apologizes for ‘forced’ adoptions.” Montreal Gazette. November 4, 2016.
15 November 2016 Cogo Laoreet Quibus Venio

Cui elit humo iriure iusto loquor nutus veniam vulpes. Camur haero illum lenis sagaciter ullamcorper. Camur comis genitus iusto odio pagus pecus qui.

Capto dolus vero.
22 November 2016 Gay Governmental Employees

In announcing that Canada will make a uniform age of sexual consent, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau hints at a future apology for gay governmental employees who lost their jobs because of their sexual orientation.

"Righting a Wrong.” Montreal Gazette. November 22, 2016.
7 December 2016 Canadian apology for pipeline protesters.

Canada’s natural resources minister apologizes for threatening the use of force against people demonstrating against an oil pipeline.

Ljunggren, David. “’I regret that’: Jim Carr apologizes for threatening to use military against pipeline protests.” Bnn.ca December 7, 2016.
15 December 2016 Canada apologizes for failures that permitted sex abuse at religious and correctional institutions

The government of Ontario, Canada apologizes for failures that permitted sex abuse at religious and correctional institutions in the city of Cornwall.

Greenberg, Lee and Meaghan Hurley. “Ontario apologizes for sex abuse.” Montreal Gazette. December 16, 2009.
27 December 2016 Japanese Condolences for Pearl Harbor

In an appearance with President Obama at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe offers condolences but not an apology for the 1941 attack.

Schmidt, Michael S. “Japanese Leader Offers Condolences in Visit to Pearl Harbor.” New York Times. December 27, 2016.
28 December 2016 Colobmian Congress approves FARC Amnesty

The Colombian Congress approves a law offering amnesty to the Farc guerilla group for some crimes committed in the country’s decades-long conflict.

“Colombia approves amnesty agreed in Farc peace deal.” BBC.com December 28, 2016.
28 December 2016 South Korea- Japan issues an apology and an $8.3 million payment for the Imperial Army’s use of “comfort women”

 In an agreement with South Korea, Japan issues an apology and an $8.3 million payment for the Imperial Army’s use of “comfort women” during World War II

Sang-Hun, Choe. “Japan and South Korea Settle Dispute Over Wartime ‘Comfort Women.’” New York Times. December 28, 2015.
29 December 2016 Germany and Namibia discuss compensation

Germany and Namibia engage in talks about a future apology and compensation for tens of thousands of deaths during colonial rule, particularly the Herero and Nama ethnic groups.

Onishi, Norimitsu. “Germany Grapples With its African Genocide.” New York Times. December 29, 2016.
7 January 2017 German payments for colonialism in Namibia.

Germany indicates that it might make payments to Namibia for the killing of 65,000 people during its colonial occupation.

"Berlin Hints At Payments For Namibia Killings.” Montreal Gazette. January 7, 2017.
26 January 2017 Georgia town apologizes for lynching

Police Chief Louis Dekmar of LaGrange, Georgia issues a posthumous apology for the lynching of Austin Callaway in 1940.

Blinder, Alan and Richard Fausset. “Nearly 8 Decades later, an Apology for a Lynching in Georgia.” New York Times. January 26, 2017.
31 January 2017 UK law pardons homozexuals

A U.K. law nicknamed the Alan Turing Law posthumously pardons thousands of gay and bisexual men who were convicted of sexual offenses before homosexuality was decriminalized in 1967.

"UK issues posthumous pardons for thousands of gay men." The Guardian. Jan. 31, 2017.
16 February 2017 Canada apologizes re. British Home Children

The Canadian House of Commons apologizes to the families of British Home Children. Some 100,000 children who were orphaned or poor were forced to move from Britain to Canada between the mid-19th and mid-20th centuries. (U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown apologized in 2010, but in 2009 Canadian Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said there was no need for Canada to apologize.)

Brownstein, Bill. “Duceppe helps win apology for British Home Children.” Montreal Gazette. February 28, 2017.
7 March 2017 Dred Scott case: descendant apologizes to descendant.

A descendant of the U.S. Chief Justice who presided over the infamous Dred Scott court case apologizes to the family of the salve who tried unsuccessfully to sue for his freedom, on the occasion of 160-year anniversary of the landmark decision.

Associated Press. “Judge’s family apologizes 160 years after Dred Scott.” Philly.com March 7, 2017.
18 March 2017 US apology for Trump's UK spy claim (?).

According to some news reports, the U.S. allegedly apologizes to Britain for repeating an allegation that the GCHQ intelligence and security organization helped Barack Obama spy on Donald Trump.

“Donald Trump fuels diplomatic row with Britain after apology from US officials over GCHQ wiretapping claims.” The Telegraph. March 18, 2017.
20 March 2017 Pope apologizes for Church's failings during Rwanda's genocide.

After meeting with Rwanda’s president, Pope Francis begs forgiveness for the Church’s “sins and failings” during the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.

Associated Press. “Pope Begs Forgiveness for Role in Genocide.” Montreal Gazette. March 21, 2017.
25 March 2017 ICC awards compensation for Congolese villagers.

The International Criminal Court awards compensation to hundreds of people in the Congolese village of Bogoro who were victimized by war crimes in 2003.

York, Geoffrey. “Congo victims win compensation.” Globe and Mail. March 25, 2017.
4 April 2017 Jamaica apology for attack on Rastafarians

Jamaican Prime Minister Andrew Holness issues an apology and reparations for an attack on Rastafarians in 1963.

19 April 2017 Florida apologizes for 'Groveland Four.'

The Florida House unanimously issues a posthumous pardon for the “Groveland Four,” four black men unjustly convicted of raping a white girl in 1949.

Johnson, Ana. “Florida says sorry to ‘Groveland Four,’ wrongly convicted of rape in 1949.” cnn.com April 19, 2017