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Reparations for Genocide: Group Harm and the Limits of Liberal Individualism

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In recent years, there has been a handful of lawsuits billed as attempts to gain reparations for the Armenian Genocide. These suits, however, have concerned only ancillary wrongs done to individuals, not the culpable harm done to the Armenian group as a whole through genocide. As such, these suits do not actually pursue reparations for the Armenian Genocide. Not only do awarded or negotiated reparations not function to address the damage done by the Armenian Genocide as a force of group destruction – a force whose consequences remain debilitating today politically, economically, culturally, and socially – but the basis of the cases is not the genocide. In fact, misrepresented as genocide reparations cases, they displace genuine reparation claims. The focus on individual suits and exclusion of genuine group reparations are a function of the limits of the Western liberal individual intellectual and political system that grounds international law. Only through fundamental changes in the guiding assumptions of that system will adequate, that is, true group reparations become viable.

Affiliations: 1: Professor of Philosophy, Worcester State University, Worcester, MA, USA


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