Reparations and Displacement in Turkey: Lessons Learned from the Compensation Law

Dilek Kurban
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Although the conflict in Turkey remains ongoing and a political solution to the “Kurdish question” has not been reached, in recent years, the Turkish government has developed a series of laws and policies regarding the situation of displaced Kurds. The most significant of these policies has undoubtedly been the adoption of a compensation law for the displaced in 2004. As one of the few countries actually compensating the displaced for their economic losses, Turkey has often been pointed to as an exemplary case by the international community. Yet, a close study of the government’s policies on displacement in general and the compensation law in particular shows that the international community has hailed Turkey prematurely for its compensation scheme for the displaced. Both the content and the implementation of the law suffer from serious shortcomings, making it far from an exemplary model that should serve as a precedent for other countries experiencing conflict-induced displacement. Drawing on lessons from the Turkish case, this paper reflects on the challenges of designing and implementing an effective reparations program for the displaced in situations where the root causes of displacement remain unresolved.