Both international legal principles and much of the literature on transitional justice support the provision of reparations as a necessary component of justice in postconflict societies. According to the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines (United Nations 2005: para. IX), “adequate, effective and prompt reparation is intended to promote justice by redressing gross violations of international human rights law or serious violations of international humanitarian law.” However, few scholarly studies have looked systematically at victims’ views of the importance of various forms of reparations in providing justice. Using individual-level data collected in the aftermath of the civil war in Nepal, we investigate people’s perceptions of the importance of various forms of reparations that appear in the UN Basic Principles and Guidelines and that have been offered in transitional justice processes. The findings suggest that compensation for losses, along with punishment of perpetrators, are viewed as being more important to providing justice for individuals than other forms of reparations, regardless of the type of grievance(s) suffered.
In analyzing peace processes in postconflict societies, scholars have primarily focused on the impact of prosecutions, truth-telling efforts, and reconciliation strategies, while overlooking the importance of individual demands for reparations. The authors argue that normative explanations of why reparations are granted in the aftermath of regime change are useful in understanding a need for reconciliation, but inadequate for explaining victim demands for compensation. The authors extend this research to study civil war settlement. In the aftermath of civil war, when some form of reparation is offered giving individuals the opportunity to seek redress of grievances, what types of loss and political and socioeconomic characteristics are likely to lead some individuals to apply for reparations but not others? Using primary data, collected through a public opinion survey in Nepal, the authors investigate individual-level demand for reparations. The findings suggest that understanding loss and risk factors may be important to civil war settlement and reconciliation.