Atrocity, the State, and Reparation Politics

  • Stephanie Wolfe
Part of the Springer Series in Transitional Justice book series (SSTJ, volume 7)


Today, it is nearly a given that groups seeking redress or reparation for past wrongs will receive some form of justice. Groups wronged by states often seek and receive apologies and compensation, to the extent that it is worthy of discussion when groups do not. Yet how did this widespread acceptance of redress and reparation emerge? Chapter One introduces key concepts and definitions needed to understand this question along with setting the framework necessary to understand how different groups, experiencing similar atrocities, achieve varying degrees of redress.

The central component of a state-sponsored atrocity occurs when the state inflicts a violent and structured injustice on a segment of its population. This goes beyond legitimate legal, judicial, and political mechanisms that are established to protect society. The majority of these acts are illegal; however, they have been given a veneer of legality. States generally recognize that their actions are not only violating international law, but are also breaking international societal norms of accepted behavior.

This work draws upon the norm life cycle and political opportunity structure to make a two-fold argument. First, that an international redress and reparation norm has emerged in the post-World War II era which has increased both the numbers of states engaging in reparation politics, and the expectations of victimized communities. Second, even in an era of increased openness vis-à-vis redress and reparation movements, differential success remains. This argues that there are certain factors within the framework of political opportunity structure that can explain varying achievements.


Redress and reparation movement Apologies Reparation politics Restitution Reparations Norm life cycle Redress and reparation norm Norm emergence Norm cascade Norm entrepreneurs Atrocity Injustice 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Weber State UniversityOgdenUSA

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