International Justice

CJ354 Endicott College

How Much Are Reparations Really Worth?

The above article describes some of the recent developments in the Lubanga trial, mainly raising the question of the value of reparations on the reconciliation process. It seems that the debate over the individual versus the collective has flared up again with regard to the nature of transitional justice. This situation is only exacerbated by the fact that the ICC is trying Lubanga thousands of miles away from where the child soliders perished fighting for his regime. While trials typically promote accountability, this one is different because the affected individuals are far removed from the process and there is little being done to engage them. Furthermore, the court’s insistence on collective reparations further dilutes the individualized reconciliation process. Collective reparations don’t address the individual pain felt by the affected persons. Furthermore, as noted in the article, collective reparations don’t seem to distinguish among the very different abuses perpetrated against individual; for example, they don’t address the pain of a child soldier versus the pain of a woman who was victim to sexual violence due to Lubanga.

The ICC’s inability to address individual concerns stems from its international nature; it has a unique place in the international system, a system marked by anarchy and the relations between states. While the ICC has the noble aim to propagate justice when the state is unable to fulfill its obligations to the right to truth and justice, it is at a disadvantage when it comes to reconciliation because it is so unfamiliar with the plight of the victims. Therefore, although it is sometimes necessary for the ICC to try those who have truly committed gross human rights violations, the reconciliation process should be referred to the local courts or to a truth commission; only they have a firsthand account of the individual’s needs in the context of society.


One response to “How Much Are Reparations Really Worth?

  1. emmaline786 November 19, 2012 at 9:09 am

    I’m inclined to agree that collective reparations can be unhelpful. The entire community benefits from symbolic reparations, even though the entire community may not have suffered. Individual pain is not recognized, even though it may greatly exceed societal pain.

    Individual reparations make theoretical commitments to justice seem more concrete and have more of an impact on people’s lives. But individual reparations are faced with problems as well. It is an enormous task to determine who should receive reparations. But another huge problem is how to actually distribute the reparations once they have been decided. In South Africa, they have been unable to figure out how to properly give out the reparations, and only half of the money they have set aside for it has been spent. It is estimated that as many as 120,000 people could qualify for reparations. (

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