Overview of the Reparations Program in South Africa

Christopher J. Colvin

in The Handbook of Reparations

Published in print March 2006 | ISBN: 9780199291922
Published online May 2006 | e-ISBN: 9780191603716 | DOI:
Overview of the Reparations Program in South Africa

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This paper explores the reparations debate in post-apartheid South Africa and outlines the recommendations for reparations made by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC). Although reparations were discussed at the multi-party negotiations at the end of apartheid, the new democratic constitution that came out of those negotiations did not provide for reparations. The legislation that created the TRC, however, established a special committee (the Committee on Reparations and Rehabilitation or CRR) to formally examine the reparations issue and make policy recommendations to the President. The CRR made its recommendations — widely considered to be one of the world’s most ambitious and comprehensive reparations policies — in the TRC’s 1998 Report. However, the South African government did not respond to these recommendations, arguing that since the work of other committees within the TRC was not yet finished, it could not consider the CRR’s proposed policy. Victim groups and civil society disagreed, and an acrimonious conflict ensued over the perceived slow pace of government action on reparations. Victims also pursued lawsuits for reparations against multinational corporations that conducted business with the apartheid government. In 2003, the government finally enacted a reduced version of the CRR’s original reparations policy.

Keywords: South Africa; Truth and Reconciliation Commission; reparations policy; apartheid

Chapter.  15723 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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