A Nation Apologizes for Wrongdoing: Is That a Category Mistake?

Danielle Celermajer

is a professor at the University of Sydney, where she established two postgraduate human rights programs aimed at forging integration between the best of scholarship and effective human rights practice. Her research and work focuses on human rights policy, advocacy, and scholarship. Her writing has been published in Al Jazeera, The Conversation, and The Sydney Morning Herald. 

(L to R) Marcelle Hoff, Michael Kirby and Shireen Malamoo are overcome with emotion as they watch Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd on a large screen deliver an historic apology to Aboriginal people for injustices committed over two centuries of white settlement, at The Block Aboriginal community in Sydney on February 13, 2008. Of the million indigenous people who are believed to have lived throughout the country before white settlement began in 1788, there are only about 470,000 Aborigines left, just over two percent of Australia's population of 21 million. AFP PHOTO/Torsten BLACKWOOD (Photo credit should read TORSTEN BLACKWOOD/AFP/Getty Images)
BY
July 24th, 2017

Can nations apologize for harm they’ve caused? A human rights scholar delves into the philosophical quandary of collective atonement.