As governments attempt to reconcile people and restore community following violent civil strife and, too, as they seek to establish standing in the international community following acts committed in violation of human rights and international law within their borders, the role and function of apology is gaining considerable attention. The challenge, in the extreme, is how do people who were routinely killing one another form a working polity? How do they gain acceptance for their reconstituted nation in the company of nations? Does apology have a role? This essay examines the public expression of apology in recent decades, provides insight into the elements that can both limit and aid its efficacy and discerns the conditions and requirements, generally, that produce an effective apology, one that can assist reconciliation and restore relationships, and, in some circumstances, aid and sustain peace.
Peace Review: A Journal of Social Justice, 20:389–397, 2008.