What Are Reparations & How Do They Work?

In May 2015, the Oxford Union renewed the debate on whether or not Britain owes India reparations For nearly a century, the British Empire exploited Indian labor, natural resources, and military strength, in order to benefit themselves at India’s expense

Yet India has never been compensated for the significant loss of life, money, and culture, despite many calling for reparations So, what exactly are reparations? Well, reparations were originally intended to pay for injuries and damages sustained during a war, paid by the losing side to the victor However, in modern times, reparations are paid to victims of human rights violations, usually by offending countries While the United Nations establishes the rights of reparations seekers, it is usually up to individuals to go through local or international courts to seek payment Alternately, offending countries sometimes agree to reparations as a response to cultural and social demands

For instance, after World War II, West Germany agreed to pay more than 3 billion deutsche marks to Israel in reparation for the Holocaust This money was used to compensate survivors, recover property, and invest in Israel’s economy Reparations can take many forms According to the UN, they fall into five categories: restitution, compensation, rehabilitation, satisfaction, and guarantees of non-repetitionRestitution seeks to restore property, employment, citizenship, or any specific loss by the victims

Compensation entails paying for financially assessable damages Rehabilitation is assistance with any psychological, physical, or legal barriers Satisfaction includes things like acknowledgements of atrocities, or public apologies by the offending party And Guarantees of non-repetition are usually legal or cultural changes to the status-quo to prevent the situation from reoccurring So who receives reparations? Well, usually, recipients are the original victims or their families

In the US, more than 100,000 Japanese Americans were forcibly interned during World War II For the following forty years, advocacy groups petitioned the government for reparations on their behalf In 1988, the US finally issued an official apology to ex-internees, and offered surviving victims $20,000 dollars each Although reparations are intended to provide some form of restoration to victims, actual reparations are exceptionally rare Usually, so much time has passed that current governments refuse to take responsibility for historical atrocities

And even when reparations are given, they cannot simply repair the lasting effects of poverty, marginalization, exploitation, or abuse In the 70 years since the end of British rule in India, much of the country has moved on Yet the aftermath of colonial rule is still felt by many, with no legal compensation The UN is generally in charge of dealing with reparations between people and countries But that’s not all they keep track of, in fact, the UN is one of the busiest and most powerful organizations around

Check out this video to find out just how powerful they are Thanks for watching, don’t forget to like and subscribe!

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