‘Germany has legal obligation to genocide reparations’

German researcher Karina Theurer says Germany has a legal obligation to engage in direct negotiations on reparations for its colonial atrocities.

Theurer in her recently published research paper ‘Minimum Legal Standards in Reparation Processes for Colonial Crimes: The Case of Namibia and Germany’ says this argument is grounded in ethical principles.

“This legal obligation can be derived from ethical principles, the racist dehumanisation itself, or the basic principles of equality and human dignity, which require a transformation of international law towards these guarantees,” she wrote.

In her paper, Theurer stresses the importance of reframing reparations for Germany’s genocide on the Nama and Herero communities between 1904 and 1908 beyond mere financial compensation.

Instead, she advocates for perceiving reparations as affirmative actions aimed at dismantling transgenerational social, cultural, political, and economic exclusion, effectively confronting the enduring legacy of colonial racism ingrained in legal frameworks.

“Participants in these negotiations can be the independent states, but for sure need to be the self-elected representatives of the affected communities in accordance with international customary law,” Theurer said.

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