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Confronted with a dearth of information regarding attempts to provide reparations to victims of human rights violations through massive programs, ICTJ pioneered an ambitious research project on the topic. The aims were to provide detailed information on reparations efforts, and to stimulate thinking about which justice criteria can and should be applied to such programs.

The project culminated with the publication in 2006 of The Handbook of Reparations, edited by Director of Research Pablo do Greiff, a groundbreaking collection of essays.

The Handbook constitutes the most comprehensive book-length study of reparations programs currently available. At more than 1000 pages, it is the result of over three years of intensive international and interdisciplinary research and the collaborative work of 27 authors from 14 countries.

The Handbook of Reparations

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The Handbook provides a broad range of essential information about past experiences with massive reparations programs as well as normative guidance for future practice. Organized around three main sections, the book includes:

  • 11 case studies
  • 9 thematic studies
  • numerous primary documents and legislation.

The country case studies offer new information about programs in different parts of the world that were previously ignored, and include such varied contexts as Chile, Malawi, the September 11 Fund, and postwar Germany.

The thematic papers—equally innovative—tackle theoretical and practical issues including the impact of psychosocial interventions and the impact of reparations on gender justice. Benefiting from ICTJ’s ongoing in-country reparations work, The Handbook is the point at which theory, debate, and practical experience converge.


The Handbook has become the standard reference for scholars, practitioners, government officials, policymakers, NGOs, and multilateral organizations as they seek to design, fund, and implement successful reparations programs. ICTJ's distinct approach to reparations has significantly influenced a number of reparations efforts. The approach was adopted by:

  • the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the chapter on reparations in its final report
  • the Commission on Illegal Detention and Torture in Chile
  • the Truth and Reconciliation Commission for Sierra Leone
  • in various international documents including Diane Orentlicher's update of the Joinet Principles on combating impunity
  • The Moroccan truth commission’s reparations program.

As testimony of the expertise underlying the production of the The Handbook, de Greiff was asked to write the document on reparations to be part of the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights' Rule-of-Law Tools for Post-Conflict States.