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 801 - 823 of 823
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
17 January 2019 Bishops apologize for victims of the Balkan wars.

In an effort to advance reconciliation after the Balkan wars of the 1990s, 17 bishops representing Croatian Catholicism and the Serbian Orthodox Church release a joint statement: “We deeply regret and honor every innocent victim of any nationality, religious affiliation or political viewpoint from our recent past.”

Perica, Vjekoslav (2020) “All Victims Matter. Reconciliation of the Balkan Faiths and Peoples: An Assessment of Recent Progress,” Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 40 : Iss. 10, Article 2. Page 2.
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.
26 March 2019 Mexican President asks Spain and Pope for apology.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador writes to King Felipe VI of Spain and Pope Francis, asking both of them to express regret for human rights abuses committed with the invasion of Mexico by Hernan Cortes in 1519, five hundred years ago.

“Mexico demands apology from Spain and the Vatican over conquest.” BBC. March 26, 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 alologizes 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.
2 May 2019 Croatian religious communities pay tribute to Holocaust victims.

In Croatia, at a memorial for the Jasenovac concentration camp, representatives of four religious communities – Jews, Orthodox, Catholics, and Muslims – pay tribute to Jewish victims of the Holocaust, condemn “extreme ideologies,” and call for “reconciliation, forgiveness, and turning to the future.”

Perica, Vjekoslav (2020) “All Victims Matter. Reconciliation of the Balkan Faiths and Peoples: An Assessment of Recent Progress,” Occasional Papers on Religion in Eastern Europe: Vol. 40: Iss. 10, Article 2. Page 4.
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.
16 August 2019 Canada apologizes to Unuits over killing sled dogs.

Canada apologizes to Inuits for killing thousands of sled dogs between 1950 and 1975 during its policy of relocating communities from mobile camps to permanent settlements

Canadian Press. “Ottawa Apologizes for Thousands of Sled Dog Killings.” Montreal Gazette. August 16, 2019.
1 September 2019 Germany asks Poland for forgiveness.

At a ceremony in Poland marking the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of World War II, German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier asks Poland’s forgiveness, saying “I ask for your forgiveness.”

Wax, Eddy. “German president asks for Polish forgiveness at World War II commemoration.” Politico. September 1, 2019.
17 September 2019 South Africa apologizes to Nigeria for xenophobic violence.

An envoy from South Africa expresses “sincerest apologies” to Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari for a wave of violent attacks against foreign-owned businesses.

“South Africa apologizes to Nigeria over xenophobic attacks.” BBC News. September 17, 2019.
2 October 2019 Quebec apologizes to First Nationa and Inuit peoples

Quebec Premier Francois Legault apologizes to First Nations and Inuit people for decades of discrimination and harm, saying “The state of Quebec has failed in its duty to you and it asks you today for forgiveness.”  The apology was issued one day after an official report by Jacques Viens on Quebec’s treatment of Indigenous people recommended an apology as the first of 142 actions that Quebec should undertake.

Banerjee, Sidhartha. “Premier Legault apologizes for Quebec’s treatment of First Nations, Inuit peoples.” Globe and Mail. October 2, 2019.
26 December 2019 Sudan Minister apologizes to Christians.

In a speech to mark Christmas, Sudan’s Minister of Religious Affairs and Endowments Nasredin Mofreh apologizes to Sudan’s Christians for the oppression they suffered during the deposed Al Bashir regime.

“Christmas message: Minister apologises to Sudan’s Christians for their suffering.” Dabanga. December 26, 2019.
11 January 2020 Iran apologizes for downing Urkanian jet.

Iranian foreign minister Mohamad Javad Zarif offers “profound regrets, apologies and condolences” for mistakenly shooting down a Ukrainian airliner, killing 176 passengers

Murphy, Tim. “Iran Apologizes for Shooting Down Ukrainian Airplane.” Mother Jones. January 11, 2020.
30 June 2020 Belgium apologizes to DRC for colonial abuse.

Belgium’s King Philippe expresses his “deepest regrets” to the Democratic Republic of Congo for past colonial abuses. His statement is contained in a letter to the DRC president issued on the 60th anniversary of the country’s independence

Rankin, Jennifer and Jason Burke. “Belgian king expresses ‘deepest regrets’ for brutal colonial rule.” The Guardian. June 30, 2020.
25 September 2020 Kim Jong Un apologizes for shooting SK man.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un apologizes for the shooting death of a South Korean man, supposedly to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

“Kim offers rare apology for killing of S. Korean.” Montreal Gazette. September 25, 2020.
29 September 2020 Nova Scotia apologizes for systemic racism.

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil apologizes for systemic racism in the justice system that has left Black and Indigenous Nova Scotians marginalized.

“N.S. premier apologizes for systemic racism in justice system.” CBC News. September 29, 2020.
29 October 2020 Canada asked to apologize for invoking War Measures Act.

In Canada, the separatist Bloc Quebecois party asks the Canadian federal government to apologize for having invoked the War Measures Act in 1970 to quell a deadly insurrection fomented by separatist terrorists.

Montgomery, Marc. “Federal apology demanded for actions in Quebec 50 years ago.” Radio Canada International. October 29, 2020.
12 November 2020 Philadelphia will apologize for MOVE bombing.

Philadelphia City Council votes to apologize for the city’s deadly bombing of the compound of the radical group MOVE in 1985, which left 11 people dead.

McCrystal, Laura. “Philly City Council has formally apologized for the deadly 1985 MOVE bombing.” Philadelphia Inquirer. November 12, 2020.
21 December 2020 Kansas City Star apologizes for racism.

The Kansas City Star newspaper apologizes for decades of racism in its reporting.

Gross, Jenny. “Kansas City Star newspaper apologizes for decades of racism in its reporting.” New York Times. December 21, 2020.