Windsor 2003

Thursday, June 12 to Saturday, June 14, 2003
Faculty of Law, University of Windsor, Windsor, Ontario, Canada

Throughout the world attention has been focussed on the issue of reparations for past injustices and the role that such reparations play in reconciling various minority groups within a nation, or between nation states, towards a greater state of harmony and justice. However, the issue of reparations presents fundamental challenges for the law. What harms warrant reparations? How far back in history should one go? Do reparations require a known victim and perpetrator, or can the present economic and social conditions of a recognized group be causally linked to the activities of an earlier dominant group or colonial government? Even where a past injustice has been recognized, how should reparations been effected’? Should loss be compensated in money, or some other form of making restitution? Even assuming a substantive claim arises; a reparation claim may entail complex issues of proof and the taking of evidence. How can oral history be presented?

The conference aims to address the issues outlined above. In particular, the conference will identify ways for legal education institutions to build competency to train advocates to actively participate in the area of reparations for past wrongs. An important focus will be on the creation of links and support networks between legal educators throughout the Commonwealth and to provide concrete ways to exchange and share curricula between law schools.

Conference Format

The conference format will follow the ‘roundtable’ concept for which this Faculty has had notable success. Speakers have been selected to provide a particular focus to the topic. Papers will be circulated to participants before attending the roundtable. Speakers will then be asked to lead discussions. A chair will also be appointed to manage time and ensure a focus is maintained. The roundtable format is designed to maximize discussion and to facilitate active rather than passive participation.

Day One Theory

Day one will focus upon the legitimacy, including political legitimacy and moral responsibility, of claims for reparation, and capacity for a legal response.

Day Two Practice

Day two will focus upon specific examples and case studies drawn from around the Commonwealth that have attempted to provide a form of reparations for a specific wrong. The aim will be to evaluate the success of these attempts measured against the goals identified for the specific scheme and how that scheme fits with the theoretical underpinnings discussed in day one.

Day Three Legal Education

Day three will deal with pedagogical issues. The study of reparations transcends many facets of law and requires an appreciation of other disciplines (e.g. political science, history, philosophy) to properly situate a legal entitlement. In addition, the advocacy of a reparations claim presents unique challenges, and may take place outside traditional legal fora. It is thus an excellent vehicle to discuss how a law school curriculum can provide sufficient breadth and depth to enable graduates to participate meaningfully in this enterprise.

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