What is the involvement of corporations in symbolic reparations (SR) in Colombia, Germany and South Africa?

Summary

In times of conflict or authoritarian regimes, a wide range of actors commit or support acts of violence. These can include corporations who command, directly engage in, entice and support, or benefit from violence. Symbolic reparations (SRs) is an umbrella term that describes symbolic acts of repairing harm, such as apologies, acknowledgment, memorialization or commemoration during transitional justice processes. SRs seek to address the intrinsic wrongness of the harm endured by victims and put their needs for recognition, respect, dignity and hope center stage.

Whilst corporations are increasingly important as participants in and supporters of transitional justice, their role in these processes remains under-researched. Neither the transitional justice nor the business ethics and management literatures provide satisfactory answers to the questions of why, when and how both corporations and victims may decide to engage in SR processes or what impact this may have.

This project aims to answer the following questions:

– When and why do companies, after they have supported, participated in, or benefitted from violent regimes and conflicts, engage in symbolic acts of reparation?

– How do they engage with victims in this process?

– Does it matter whether or not companies acknowledge their own wrongdoing?

The project studies the involvement of corporations in SRs in Colombia, South Africa and Germany. We draw on the multi-disciplinary backgrounds of the research team in political science, transitional justice, management and business ethics and adopt a multiple-case study approach. The team will conduct key informant interviews, archival work and document analysis.

The findings will provide policy makers, scholars and practitioners with a more nuanced and comprehensive understanding of the contributions that corporations can make to transitional justice processes through SRs.

Project Keywords

  • Transitional justice
  • Symbolic reparations
  • Corporations
  • Violence

Disciplines

  • Political Science
  • Economics
  • Management
  • Business Ethics
  • International Law
  • Transitional Justice

Collaborations

International Organizations

  • International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance

Non-Governmental Organizations

  • Regional Centre for Responsible Enterprises Colombia (CREER)
  • Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa
  • International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
  • Foundation “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future”, Germany

 

Relevant Countries

  • Colombia
  • South Africa
  • Germany

Status

This is an ongoing project, which started in autumn 2019. The information here is updated regularly. If you have any inquiries please don’t hesitate to contact the project team via the form below.

Project Description Video

Contact the project team

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Research team

 

Florian Wettstein
Coordinator
University of St. Gallen

Ulrike Lühe
Co-Coordinator
University of Basel

Jordi Vives
Principal Member
University of St. Gallen

Hugo van der Merwe
Principal Member
Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa

Mbalenhla Matandela
Principal Member
Center for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation, South Africa

Laura Cotrina
Principal Member
Regional Centre for Responsible Enterprises Colombia

Ana Maria Reyes
Associated Member
Boston University

Frank Haldemann
Associated Member
Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights