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 751 - 755 of 755
Date of Apology Title Summary Source
16 August 2019 Canada apologizes to Inuits 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 Nations 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.
11 January 2020 Iran apologizes for downing Ukrainian 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.