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international teams of human rights

As significant as this progress is,

War, 4 million Africans, denied of any

scholars and practitioners with the

it is an ongoing and difficult process.

personal freedom and liberties, toiled in

International Center for Transitional

Victims and offenders must be prepared

fields picking cash crops for plantation

Justice. The first project was to help

and open to face past transgressions,

owners. By the end of World War II,

make reparations after political violence

and in some cases, one or both sides

6 million Jews in Europe were system-

and repression more sensitive and just to

might not be ready. Walker points to the

atically murdered in gas chambers and

both genders. The second project was a

failure of the Japanese government to

concentration camps. In 1994, in just 100

study of how various measures — such

properly acknowledge that thousands of

days, roughly 500,000 Rwandans were

as criminal trials, truth commissions and

women, mostly Korean, were coerced

killed and countless women were the

memorial sites — actually work. Walker

or kidnapped into sexual enslavement

t the outset of the American Civil

victims of brutal rape. In such cases, where torture and brutality were systematically carried out, is justice possible? What does it look like, and how is it achieved? Dr. Margaret Urban Walker, the Donald J. Schuenke

IN SEARC By Andrew Brodzeller

Chair of Philosophy at Marquette and author of Moral Repair: Reconstructing

focused on how truth commissions

Moral Relations After Wrongdoing, has

function and can be effective.

made it her life’s work to better understand

exciting experience both to learn from

it. “All through history, when it was over,

scholars and practitioners worldwide

it was just over,” Walker reflects. “We

and to contribute to one of the most

cannot just turn the page. Instead, we

remarkable phenomena of our times —

need to look at issues and rebuild trust

the systematic pursuit of justice in the

and hope.”

aftermath of massive political violence,”

Walker says the past 50 years have brought a historical shift in our under-

she says. This progress has moved the idea of

standing of justice, a time in which

justice from exclusively one of retribution,

in Japanese Army brothels during World

international systems of norms for the

which focuses on punishment of the

War II or the Lakota Sioux’s refusal to

basic protection and recognition of

offender, to one that includes reparation.

accept a monetary settlement from the

individuals have taken hold. Germany’s

This form of justice is meant to help

U.S. government for the theft of the

payments to Jewish survivors of the

release victims from the disgrace,

Black Hills.

Holocaust started what has become a

dishonor and contempt of the wrong

growing international emphasis on the

they’ve witnessed or endured, while

think about continued transgressions

human right to individual reparation. As

offenders or countries admit to and

worldwide, Walker thinks incredible

a moral philosopher, these developments

apologize for the crimes committed.

strides have been made in recent genera-

allow Walker to not only think about

Reparative justice, according to Walker,

tions and that there is hope for a better

the nature of moral rules and shared

helps exemplify and establish mutual

future. “Through all the history of the

norms but to witness how human beings

accountability as moral partners in a

world, most human beings have had to

progress morally and come to new

shared future. Reparative justice can take

hope for luck or mercy rather than justice

convictions and understandings.

many forms, including public apologies,

when they have been terribly wronged,”

The author of several books, Walker


“It has been an extraordinary and

what justice means and how to achieve

Though it can be disheartening to

monetary or material amends, creation of

she says. “But now there is a glimmer of

has also taken an active role to help

memorials, the exhumation and proper

hope that some justice, however small

define and articulate this new concept

reburial of human remains, and access to

and undependable, is within reach. That

of justice. Twice she has worked with

medical services.

is, humanly, incredibly moving.”²


Discover 2012  

Every spring DISCOVER: Marquette University Research and Scholarship showcases some of the most interesting research happening on Marquette'...

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