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 776 - 800 of 823
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
6 February 2018 Mercedes-Benz apology to China

The Mercedes-Benz company apologizes to China for using a quote from the Dalai Lama

MacDonald, Joe. “Mercedes in China apologizes for quoting Dalai Lama abroad.” Financial Post. February 6, 2018.
24 February 2018 Albania's Cham community asks Greece for apology.

Albania’s Cham community, expelled from Greece after World War II, asks Greece to apologize for what they called a genocide against them and permit them to return to the area in northern Greece from which they were removed.

“Albania’s Chams want Greek apology for wartime expulsion.” Reuters. February 24, 2018.
9 March 2018 Poland apologizes for Anti-Semitic purge.

Polish President Andrzej Duda offers a qualified apology for Poland’s anti-Semitic purge in 1968, in which 13,000 Jewish Poles were expelled. Duda’s remarks followed criticism of a bill banning speech that accuses Poland of complicity in Nazi actions.

McAuley, James. “Poland’s president offers a non-apology apology for ’68 anti-Semitic purge. (The ‘Holocaust bill’ is still on the books.)” Washington Post. March 9, 2018.
26 March 2018 Canada apologizes for deaths of First Nation chiefs.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau apologizes to members of the Tsilhqot’in Nation for the hanging of six chiefs in 1864.

Omand, Geordon. “Trudeau apologizes to B.C.’s Tsilqot’in for hanging of six chiefs in 1864 ‘Chilcotin War.’” National Post. May 26, 2019.
27 March 2018 Pope will not apologize for Canadian residential schools.

Responding to a request by Canada’s 2017 Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Pope Francis indicates that he will not apologize for the role of the Roman Catholic Church in Canada’s infamous residential schools policy for Indigenous peoples.

Rabson, Mia. “Pope Francis turns down reconciliation commission’s request for residential schools apology.” National Post. March 27, 2018.
11 April 2018 Pope admits errors in Chilean sex abuse scandal.

Pope Francis admits that he made “grave errors” in dealing with a clerical sexual abuse scandal in Chile and invites the victims to come to Rome so he can beg their forgiveness.

“Pope Francis admits ‘grave error’ in discrediting Chilean church sexual abuse victim.” The Guardian. April 11, 2018.
17 April 2018 British apology for deporting migrants.

U.K. Prime Minister Theresa May apologizes to 12 Caribbean heads of government for the deportation and mistreatment of Caribbean “Windrush” immigrants who came to the U.K. between 1948 and 1971.

Walker, Peter and Amelia Gentleman. “May apologises for treatment of Windrush citizens.” The Guardian. April 17, 2018.
19 April 2018 Canadian bishops debate call for papal apology.

Canadian bishops argue against a parliamentary motion that would call for a papal apology for the church’s role in the Canadian system of residential schools for Indigenous people, as recommended by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, after the Pope demurred

Platt, Brian. “Bishops push back on apology motion.” Montreal Gazette. April 19, 2018.
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.