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 726 - 750 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
22 April 2018 Vancouver apologizes for racial discrimination.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson apologizes for historical discrimination against Chinese residents.

Xu, Xiao. “Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson apologizes to Chinese community for historic discrimination.” Globe and Mail. April 22, 2018.
11 May 2018 Malaysian king to pardon opposition leader.

Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad says the country’s king has agreed to pardon imprisoned opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim

Ramzy, Austin. “Malaysian Prime Minister Says Jailed Opposition Leader Will Be Pardoned.” New York Times. May 22, 2018.
18 May 2018 Chile's bishops beg forgiveness.

In response to a child-sex scandal and cover-up, all 34 of Chile’s bishops beg forgiveness and offer to resign

“All Chile’s 34 bishops offer resignation to Pope over sex abuse scandals.” BBC News. May 18, 2018.
21 May 2018 Canadians seek CIA apology.

A group of Canadians who were subjected to CIA brainwashing experiments decades ago meets to begin seeking an apology and compensation.

Ellenwood, Lisa. “Group affected by CIA brainwashing experiments wants public apology, compensation from government.” CBC News. May 21, 2018.
24 May 2018 Presdient Trump pardons boxer.

U.S. President Donald Trump posthumously pardons the African American boxer Jack Johnson, who was convicted in 1913 of transporting a white woman across state lines.

Eligon, John and Michael D. Shear. “Trump Pardons Jack Johnson, Heavyweight Boxing Champion.” New York Times. May 24, 2018.
19 June 2018 Charleston apology for slave trade.

On a day celebrating the abolition of slavery, the City Council of Charleston, South Carolina apologizes for the city’s role in the slave trade.

Campisi, Jessica and Saaed Ahmed. “Charleston, where 40% of all US slaves entered the country, finally apologizes for its role in the slave trade.” CNN. June 19, 2018.
26 June 2018 Canadian apology to indigenous women.

At a national inquiry, the head of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) apologizes to the families of missing and murdered indigenous women, whose cases were often not taken seriously.

McKenna, Ryan. “‘I’m sorry’: Inquiry hears RCMP apology.” Montreal Gazette. June 26, 2018.
21 August 2018 Pope condemns priests' sexual abuse.

In a letter to Catholics everywhere, Pope Francis condemns priests’ sexual abuse and its coverup and begs forgiveness for the suffering of its victims.

Winfield, Nicole. “Pope blasts abuse by clergy.” Montreal Gazette. August 21, 2018.
27 August 2018 Pope seeks forgiveness for sexual abuse in Ireland.

Pope Francis begs forgiveness for the Catholic Church’s decades of sexual abuse in Ireland.

Sherwood, Harriet. “Pope begs forgiveness for abuse scandals as Ireland trip ends.” The Guardian. August 27, 2018.
27 September 2018 Saudi Arabia seeks Canadian apology.

Saudi Arabia demands that Canada apologize for a tweet by Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland that urged the Saudis to release two imprisoned activists.

Meyer, Helen. “Saudi Arabia demands Canadian apology to resolve diplomatic spat.” Bloomberg News. September 26, 2018.
21 October 2018 Norway apologizes for Lebensborn discrimination.

Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg apologizes for the punishment and deportation of Norwegian women who had relationships with German soldiers during the Nazi “Lebensborn” program in World War II

Magra, Iliana. “Norway Issues a WWII-Related Apology.” New York Times. October 21, 2018.
22 October 2018 Australian apology for sex abuse.

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison apologizes to victims of child sexual abuse in Australian institutions over decades

“Australia sexual abuse: National apology delivered to victim.” BBC. October 22, 2018.
7 November 2018 Canada apologizes for refusing asylum seekers.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for Canada’s decision in 1939 to turn away the 900 Jews on the MS St. Louis ocean liner who were seeking asylum from Nazi Germany.

Chase, Steven. “Trudeau warns against modern anti-Semitism in apology for turning away Jewish refugees fleeing Nazis.” Globe and Mail. November 7, 2018.
28 November 2018 South Korean court orders Japanese compensation.

South Korea’s top court orders the Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries to compensate Koreans who were forced to labor during World War II.

Shinn, Hyonhee and Joyce Lee. “South Korean Court Angers Japan with order to Compensate Wartime Laborers.” US News. November 28, 2018.
29 November 2018 Dutch railway to compensate deportees.

The Dutch national railway company accepts its role the mass deportation of Jews by Nazi forces, saying “It is a black mark on the history of our country and our company,” and says it will pay reparations to survivors.

Corder, Mike. “Dutch rail to pay for role in Jewish deportation.” Montreal Gazette. November 28, 2018.
18 December 2018 Germany to pay for child evacuations.

Germany agrees to pay $3,800 to survivors who as children were evacuated from Nazi Germany to Great Britain. In most cases, the children were Jewish and their parents were killed.

Rising, David. “Children who fled Nazis get redress.” Montreal Gazette. December 18, 2018.
8 January 2019 Sasketchewan apology to indigenous children.

Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe apologizes to survivors of the “Scoop” policy whereby the province took 20,000 Indigenous children from their families and placed them in non-Indigenous homes between the 1950s and the 1980s.

10 February 2019 British regret for Maori deaths.

A British high commissioner expresses regret for the killing of nine Maori people upon James Cook’s arrival in New Zealand in 1769. (Cook had expressed regret in his diaries.)

Graham-McLay, Charlotte. “UK expresses ‘regret’ over Maori killings after Cook’s arrival in New Zealand.” The Guardian. October 2, 1019.
12 February 2019 UN groups calls on Belgium to apologize for Congo.

The United Nations Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent calls for Belgium to apologize for its colonization of Congo and to make reparations.

Associated Press. “UN Group Calls For Apology For Crimes in Congo.” Montreal Gazette. February 12, 2019.
8 March 2019 Canada issues apology for tuberculosis.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes for the government’s mid-century mistreatment of Inuit people with tuberculosis

“Trudeau apologizes for ‘colonial,’ ‘purposeful’ mistreatment of Inuit with tuberculosis.” CBC News. March 8, 2019.
4 April 2019 Belgian apology for racial separation of children.

Belgium apologizes for kidnapping and separating thousands of children born to mixed-race couples during its colonial rule if Africa.

Schreuer, Milan. “Belgium Apologizes for Kidnapping Children From African Colonies.” New York Times. April 4, 2019.
13 April 2019 India seeks apology for massacre.

On the 100-th anniversary of the 1919 Amritsar massacre in which nearly 1,000 people were killed, India still waits for an apology from Great Britain. On April 10, U.K. Prime Minister Teresa May said, “We deeply regret what happened and the suffering caused.”

Schultz, Kai. “100 Years After Massacre, India Awaits an Apology.” New York Times. April 14, 2019.
25 April 2019 Japan apologizes for sterilization.

Japan apologizes for the forced sterilization of thousands of people under a eugenics policy against people with disabilities. The apology followed a law to compensate each victim $28,000

Associated Press. “Tokyo Apologizes for Forced Sterilizations.” Montreal Gazette. April 25, 2019.
24 May 2019 Canada posthumously exhonerates Chief.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau exonerates Saskatchewan Chief Poundmaker, who was convicted of treason 130 years ago

Taylor, Stephanie. “Trudeau exonerates Poundmaker of treason.” Montreal Gazette. May 24, 2019.
11 August 2019 President Trump says North Korea offered apology.

U.S. President Donald Trump says that North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un offered a “small apology” for recently firing short-range missiles.

Sang-Hun, Choe. “Trump Says Kim Offered His ‘Apology’ Over Launch.” New York Times. August 11, 2019.