In our introductory chapter to this work we state that, if this book has a heart, it lies in the recognition of the fact that both ancient and recent human history is littered with examples of widespread and gross violations of human rights. Appalling violations of fundamental human rights continue to be perpetrated in the present day. Despite the enduring and widespread nature of gross human rights violations, however, it is an unfortunate fact that, of the millions of people whose lives have been shattered by torture, rape, the murder of loved ones, or other gross violations of their human rights, only a tiny fraction have any hope of receiving any meaningful form of reparation.
This book may be regarded as a single modest attempt to address the problem outlined above. It is our hope that the individual chapters contained in this book will stimulate debate on the issue of reparations, and that this debate will lead to increased visibility for the many deserving groups striving for some form of meaningful recognition or recompense for past injustices visited upon them.
We do not claim that this book covers the field of reparations in a comprehensive or systematic way. Rather, it is eclectic in nature, due to the diverse areas of interest and expertise of the various contributing authors. Therefore, it should be regarded as a work designed to stimulate debate on a number of themes pertinent to the important topic of reparations, rather than as a text book which sets out to describe an entire field of study. The book is intended for practitioners and other human rights experts who are engaged in the struggle for reparations for gross human rights abuses.
This is a truly international work. As editors we are grateful to have collaborated with a range of outstanding academics and practitioners from around the world, whose individual chapters form the fabric of the book. We have not sought to sensor the, at times robust, political and legal opinions of the various authors, but point out that the views and opinions expressed by the authors are not necessarily those of the editors of this book. Our heartfelt thanks are due to each of the authors.