Political Apologies Archive

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.

Date of Apology Title Summary Source
28 November 2002 2002: APakistani surgeon, claims that he received an apology from the F.B.I. and C.I.A.

Amer Aziz, a Pakistani surgeon, claims that he received an apology from the F.B.I. and C.I.A. after being released from several weeks of secret detention and interrogation for suspected terrorist ties in Islamabad, Pakistan.

Gall, Carlotta. “Pakistani Who Treated bin Laden Questioned by U.S.” New York Times. November 28, 2002.
8 November 2002 2002: Abu Abbas, the leader of terrorist group- hijacking the Achille Lauro ship in 1985

 Abu Abbas, the leader of terrorist group responsible for hijacking the Achille Lauro ship in 1985, expresses regret but does not apologize for the killing of American Leon Klinghoffer.

Burns, John F. “Ringleader of ’85 Achille Lauro Hijacking Says Killing Wasn’t His Fault.” New York Times. November 8, 2002.
14 November 2002 2002: USA-Japan $13 million in compensation-U.S. submarine Greenville accident

The U.S. agrees to pay $13 million in compensation to the families of 33 people killed when the U.S. submarine Greenville accidentally sunk the Japanese fishing trawler Ehime Maru in 2001.

French, Howard W. “Japanese Accept U.S. Offer in Ship Accident.” New York Times. November 15, 2002.
15 November 2002 2002: Slovakia’s surviving Jews asks Germany for compensation

A group representing Slovakia’s surviving Jews asks Germany for compensation for deporting 57,000 Slovak Jews to Nazi death camps in 1942 with one-way tickets that were paid for with their own property.  Germany refuses, contending that the Slovak state, not Nazi Germany, deported the Jews and that the Jews who died did not appoint the current Jewish community to collect damages.

Green, Peter S. “Slovakia’s Surviving Jews Demand Compensation From Germany.” New York Times. November 16, 2002.
24 June 2002 2002: The Quebec- British monarchy to admit responsibility for the deportation of Acadians

The Quebec National Assembly unanimously votes to ask the British monarchy to admit responsibility for the deportation of Acadians in the 1750s and 1760s.

“Asking for an apology.” Maclean’s. June 24, 2002.
13 July 2002 2002: Iran calls on the United States to apologize

Iranian President Mohammad Khatami calls on the United States to apologize to the Iranian people for its “misdeeds in the past.

“Iran’s Khatami calls for U.S. apology.” United Press International. July 14, 2002.
16 July 2002 2002: The Irish Republican Army apologizes for civilian deaths

 The Irish Republican Army apologizes for civilian deaths over its thirty year struggle to unite Northern Ireland with the Republic of Ireland.

Lavery, Brian. “I.R.A. Apologizes for Civilian Deaths in Its 30-Year Campaign.” New York Times. July 17, 2002. pA5.
30 July 2002 2002: Pakistan expresses regrets for the deaths of nearly 3 million people

Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf expresses regrets for the deaths of nearly 3 million people during Bangladesh’s war of independence in 1971.  At a war memorial near Dhaka, Musharraf writes in a visitors’ book, “Your brothers and sisters in Pakistan share the pains of the events of 1971.  The excesses committed during the unfortunate period are regrettable.

Anam, Tahmima. “Pakistan’s State of Denial.” New York Times. December 26, 2013.
12 August 2002 2002: National Public Radio (NPR), apologizes To Traditional Values Coalition (TVC)

 Kevin Klose, president and chief executive officer of National Public Radio (NPR), apologizes for a story suggesting that the Traditional Values Coalition (TVC), a conservative group with 43,000 member churches, was linked to anthrax-laced letters sent to Senators Tom Daschle and Patrick Leahy.

“NPR apology unacceptable to Christian-values group.” Insight on the News. August 12, 2002.
14 August 2002 2002: Japan expresses regrets about Japan’s past aggression

 Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi expresses regrets about Japan’s past aggression.

Greimel, Hans. “Japan’s leader steers clear of war shrine.” New York Times. August 15, 2002.
21 August 2002 2002: The Independent National Electoral Commission- All Nigeria Peoples Party dispute

The Independent National Electoral Commission demands an apology from the leadership of the All Nigeria Peoples Party over the party's allegation that the commission was responsible for problems at its convention on July 27, 2002.

“INEC Demands Apology from ANPP.” Africa News Service. August 22, 2002.
September 2002 2002: North Korean-Japan kidnapped Japanese civilians

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il acknowledges that North Korean agents kidnapped Japanese civilians in order to assume their identities and apologizes for the deaths of eight of the victims

French, Howard. “Plot Confirmed, Japan Feels No Less Pain.” New York Times. September 28, 2002.
13 September 2002 2002: Bishop Charles G. Palmer-Buckle Of Ghana apologizes on behalf of Africans for the part Africans themselves played in the slave trade

Bishop Charles G. Palmer-Buckle Of Ghana apologizes on behalf of Africans for the part Africans themselves played in the slave trade.

“Ghanaian bishop offers apology for Africans’ part in slave trade.” National Catholic Reporter. September 13, 2002.
21 September 2002 2002: Germany-USA President George W. Bush's Iraq tactics

German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder apologizes for remarks by German Justice Minister Herta Daubler-Gmelin that compared President George W. Bush's Iraq tactics to Hitler's tactics.

Erlanger, Steven. “Apology aside, German vote has U.S. hinge.” New York Times. September 21, 2002.
25 September 2002 2002: president Bush apology to Senate Democrats special Interests-national security

Senate leader Tom Daschle demands that President Bush apologize for suggesting that Senate Democrats care more about special interests than national security.

Purdum, Todd S. “Daschle defends Democrats’ stand on security of U.S.” New York Times. September 26, 2002.
3 October 2002 2002: Chicago passes “The Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance,”

 At the urging of Ald. Dorothy Tillman, Chicago passes “The Slavery Era Disclosure Ordinance,” requiring business involved in city contracts to determine whether they profited from slavery.

Miller, Sabrina and Gary Washburn. “New Chicago law requires firms to tell slavery links.” Chicago Tribune. October 3, 2002.
7 October 2002 2002: German media - collaboration with the Nazi regime

The German media company Bertelsmann expresses regret for its collaboration with the Nazi regime and notes that it has joined over 6,000 other German companies that have agreed to pay $4.5 billion to people who performed forced labor under the Nazis.

Landler, Mark. “Bertelsmann Offers Regret For Its Nazi-Era Conduct.” New York Times. October 8, 2002.
8 October 2002 2002: Dublin Archbishop apologizes to people who were sexually abused as children by Church officials

Dublin Archbishop Cardinal Desmond Connell apologizes to people who were sexually abused as children by Church officials.

“Ireland: Archbishop Apologizes.” New York Times. October 8, 2002.
21 October 2002 2002: Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issues a general pardon,

A few days after receiving a hundred percent of the vote in a referendum on his leadership, Iraqi President Saddam Hussein issues a general pardon, freeing thousands of political prisoners.

Anderson, John Lee. “No Place To Hide.” The New Yorker. November 25, 2002. p76; Blair, David. “Saddam empties Iraq’s jails.” The Telegraph. (UK) October 21, 2002.
4 April 2002 2003: South Africa-Apartheid Employees sue for $6.1 billion

 Former employees of mining companies in South Africa sue for $6.1 billion, alleging mistreatment under apartheid.

“Workers Sue Companies Over Apartheid.” New York Times. 4/6/03/