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Has the C of E got its reparations bill all wrong?

27 April 2024

9:00 AM

27 April 2024

9:00 AM

Reparations have a troubled history, and rightly. The word itself, in its familiar sense, seems to have been a euphemism thought up by lawyers after the first world war. President Woodrow Wilson had promised a peace ‘without indemnities’. So no indemnities: ‘reparations’ instead. It sounded less objectionable. It was further agreed that liability should cover only demonstrable damage, not be punishment for the act of war itself – a remarkable and perhaps unprecedented concession by the victors to the vanquished (who had themselves recently imposed heavy indemnities on Russia, and before that on France).

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