Reparations and Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights

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Abstract

In 2012, more and more voices are calling on policymakers to encompass economic, social, and cultural rights—the economic violence that underlies many conflicts—under the banner of transitional justice. The critique of transitional justice as too “top-down,” too elite-driven, and too responsive to donor rather than local priorities merged with a sense that the emphasis on civil and political rights in transitional justice reflects the privilege those rights in Western rights discourse. While there is considerable support for the idea that transitional justice generally needs to grapple more centrally with economic, social, and cultural rights, it is not clear how reparations fit into that picture. This chapter briefly describes reparations programs and their potential contributions to protecting and ensuring economic, social, and cultural rights, with a focus on administrative reparations programs in the transitional context. This is followed by a look at how existing administrative reparations programs have dealt with rights like education, health, and housing in the context of “integral reparations” for other kinds of violations. Then, the chapter turns to efforts to deal directly with violations of economic, social, and cultural rights, especially arising from forced displacement and dispossession of land and property, using South Africa and Colombia as examples. Finally, it considers how reparations programs could more effectively deal with violations of socioeconomic rights, especially where these stem from systematic discrimination and exclusion.