Those interested in mechanisms and processes of transitional justice in Serbia know that the International Criminal Tribunal for the Former Yugoslavia (hereafter: the ICTY) is not a popular institution. Its work is met by mistrust, frustration, anger, lies, and political manipulation.[1] My introductory claim is that such attitudes do not say much about the goals, organization, rules of procedure, or achievements of the ICTY. Rather, they inform us about the dominant societal and political culture in Serbia, which insists that the very existence of the Tribunal suffices for its negative assessment.

Why is that? In the core of the dominant Serbian culture we find a particular approach to the mass crimes recently committed in the name of the nation. Its most important feature is denial of the truth, followed by the lack of an elementary human compassion for the suffering of victims. Such a stance can be identified as the culture of denial and moral indifference. This culture is a morally wrong response to yesterday’s crimes. It can be neither justified nor excused. Thus, changing the present cultural pattern is a duty of the Serbian elites and of the each member of the Serbian nation. The talk is about duty to respond to yesterday’s atrocities in a legally, politically and morally appropriate manner. Honoring this duty requires combination of different strategies and mechanisms of transitional justice. The main claim of this paper is that apology to victims and their community can contribute towards providing such a response. Additionally, in the context of the legacies of the Yugoslav wars, apology is a more suitable strategy than reconciliation.

This introduction is followed by three sections. Section one explores shortly the character of the crimes committed in the name of the Serbian nation. Section two summarizes a view of the dominant Serbian culture: the main argument is that this culture is crime-specific.[2] Section three focuses on apology. The conceptual questions – the notion of apology, its types, agents and goals – are explored against the background of the claim that the character of the Serbian crimes creates a duty to apologize, and that this duty works at both official and interpersonal levels.

Collective Crime

After the fall of a regime that had organized and implemented long-lasting mass crime[3], people often argue about the past. Disagreements pertain both to facts and their interpretation: what really happened, why did it happen, who did it, and how, was it right or wrong, does it matter or does it not matter today? Still, I hold that in all known cases of criminal regimes and mass crimes one particular set of facts and one particular evaluative stance are beyond dispute. First, at the level of facts, all mass crimes present clear instances of killing and harming vast numbers of innocent people. Second, at the level of interpretation, a basic evaluation of such practices is beyond reproach: they were wrong, and none of them can be justified.[4] No historical, cultural, ideological or political argument advanced to defend mass crime can be accepted as relevant in an effort aimed at explaining and evaluating such events.

Applied to the Serbian case, these two insights inform us of the following: grave injustices have been committed in recent years, which can be identified as the crimes committed by some Serbs, in the name of all Serbs, and against non-Serbian population. Taking a step further, I will identify Serbia under Milošević as a populist criminal regime, and its misdeeds as collective crimes. The populist criminal regime is a regime type that engages in mass atrocities while relying on the support of the majority of its subjects, or more precisely, on the support of those subjects who belong to the group in whose name the regime rules. The essential quality of this relationship is not repression, but rather populist integration, which includes a high level of ideological and practical agreement about crime. Such crimes can be categorized as collective crimes. Following Linda Radzik, collective crime is an act committed by a significant number of members of a group, in the name of all members of that group, with the support of the majority of group members, and against individuals targeted on the basis of their belonging to a different group.[5]

Collective crime is a qualified subtype of mass crime, distinguished by several features. First, it unfolds as a coordinated, intentional action of a multitude of individuals, institutions and organizations. Second, it is justified by claiming some alleged good of the group in whose name the regime acts. Third, it is ideologically, legally and politically institutionalized and ‘normalized’: the political arrangements, legal norms and the system of values, beliefs and attitudes, are all shaped in a manner that allows, justifies, and makes routine the infliction of suffering on those who are arbitrarily proclaimed as enemies. Fourth, the majority of the regime’s subjects interiorize the perverted value system, which is then expressed in their support for the regime, its ideology and actions, including the killing and other forms of extraordinarily cruel violations of human dignity.

It follows that collective crime is more than an aggregate of individual criminal actions. This is why its evaluation is irreducible to assessing separate acts of discrete perpetrators, collaborators and bystanders. This is not meant to deny the relevance of criminal justice – it remains the most important feature of transitional justice. But the nature of this crime requires pluralism of approaches of coming to terms with the past: we need mechanisms and strategies that would take into account specific moral and cultural aspects of the crime and its legacies.

Culture of Denial

For the purpose of the present analysis, ‘culture’ will be understood as the mode of life of a social group or community shaped by standardized procedures and normative requirements that regulate relationships, attitudes and actions.[6] Elsewhere I have tried to demonstrate[7] that the main crime-specific cultural attitude under the Serbian populist criminal regime was denial of the truth. In addition, this denial has continued to shape the dominant Serbian culture after the regime change, albeit in new forms. So, we can actually talk about two closely connected cultures of denial.[8] In the populist criminal regime, the culture of denial is one of the most important aspects of collective crimes, second only to the misdeed itself, without which the criminal regime and its atrocities would not be possible at all. It consists of emotional, cognitive, and behavioral patterns through which the majority of ‘ordinary people’ supports the regime.

Second, in the transitional context, this culture denotes a dominant group-specific attitude to the past regime, the crimes committed, and their consequences. The leading cultural pattern now consists of the empirically observable rejection of the majority to confront the elementary facts of the recent past. Again, it includes different modalities of emotion, evaluation, and behavior that refute the truth about the past wrongs. Since the totalitarian pressure and manipulation are not present anymore, this culture appears as a matter of choice.[9] What is the outcome of this choice?

The culture of denial in contemporary Serbia functions as the refusal to acknowledge the true character of what is known to have happened. The prevailing cultural and political attitude to the recent past in Serbia rests on the claim “we did nothing wrong”: even if ‘our’ recent practices caused harm and suffering, they are allegedly politically and morally justifiable. In consequence, and especially after the assassination of Prime Minister Đinđić in 2003, the worst legacies of the past have re-surfaced: refusal to accept any responsibility for the crimes committed in Bosnia, Croatia and Kosovo; preservation of the destructive core of tribal nationalism, disguised as the affirmation of ‘genuine traditions’ and ‘true identity’; promotion of the war criminals to the pedestal of national heroes, followed by refusal to acknowledge legitimacy of the ICTY.[10] Public discourse is colonized by the authoritarian friend–foe pattern, foes being non-Serbs, the international community, and those individuals and organizations in Serbia who argue that the book of the past should not be closed, and who insist that the road to democracy for this country requires both condemnation of the crimes and the explicit rejection of the nationalist legacies.

The overall result is the preservation of the factual and moral ignorance among the population.[11] Call it the culture of moral indifference. Some people will stick with the claim that the crime did not happen at all; others will argue that they did not and could not know what was happening; some, while admitting that many people were killed, will interpret these events not as crimes but as ‘legitimate defense of national interests’, or even ‘heroic deeds’; yet others, while admitting that bad things indeed happened, will insist that those were regime crimes, which cannot be meaningfully linked with ‘ordinary people’. Intellectual and political elite will also oscillate between literal and interpretative denial and claims of primary importance of normalization and stability. These strategies reveal that yesterday’s ‘ethics of evil’ leaves as its most troublesome legacy a political culture in which there are too many people engaged in self-deception. Such people do not merely refuse to acknowledge elementary facts about crimes – they do not comprehend or do not want to comprehend distinctions between right and wrong, just and unjust, good and bad.

Shortly, the refusal to reflect on the past has greatly contributed to the political and normative confusion, which has effectively destroyed the democratic promise of the regime change. Both citizens and political elites are prisoners of the past. Arguing that at work is an effort to keep the pillars of the discredited past alive, does not contradict the claim that Serbia refuses to deal with recent events. The paradox is easy to resolve: the past defended by today’s elites has never been. In terms of the truth-value, the dominant representation of the past is only a chimera. In political and cultural terms, this is a revisionist program that shapes and guards a new version of the ideology of mythic nationalism: recent atrocities committed in the name of the Serbian nation are to be reinterpreted in a manner that integrates them into a new positive representation of the national identity.

Such a revisionist enterprise, the comparative experience teaches us, can never fully succeed. But in the Serbian case it has created gloomy effects. Society is deeply divided in consequence of the war, atrocities, and the political and cultural misuse of their perception. The wall of silence and denial built around the recent past only maintains the political and cultural condition in which the line between the truth and lies about the past is unclear, and where lies are easily translated into a manipulative political discourse. Instead of recognizing the true victims of the crimes, Serbia has preserved the old narrative of self-victimization, which continues to serve as a repository of the right-wing political options, from the Serbian version of liberal nationalism to the Serbian version of street fascism. We in Serbia are incapable of meeting the requirements of human rights, democracy and decency today because we are unwilling to confront the truth about the crimes committed in our name yesterday.


It is our duty to work towards changing the cultural pattern summarized above. A minor reason for this ought is forward-looking and it concerns Serbia: pretending that the past is irrelevant or not bad does not make legacies of that past less present. What happened cannot be willfully erased, either from our memories, or from our present – plainly, Serbia will not achieve democratic normalcy unless it confronts its past. A major reason for the ought is backward-looking and victim-oriented: what happened is of such a nature that it must not to be forgotten. If we, in whose name the killing was done, claim that the book of the past should be closed, or if we deny and lie, than we are sending out a powerful message: to us of today, injustices committed in our name yesterday are irrelevant; in particular, victims’ suffering is irrelevant. And nobody has the right to say anything like that.

So, the question is what we can and ought to do in addressing the recent past. Let us first observe an important cultural consequence of collective crime: it consists of creating new, crime-specific, group identities. Before the crime we were all moral equals. We used to live as decent citizens in a community that acknowledged the principle of moral equality, both in relationships among citizens, and in the way the state treated its citizens. Then things somehow changed: the majority of those who used to be decent people sided with a militant extreme nationalist group, gradually accepting the group’s ideology as their own value system. The group came to power ‘democratically’ thanks to the support of the new majority, and it set forth to carry out its ideology, again with the majority support. Mass killing of the innocent co-citizens followed.

The inference is unambiguous: during the crime, moral equality of all members of the victimized group was denied in the cruelest possible way on behalf of the new moral position of all members of the perpetrators’ group. After the crime we find the members of these two groups positioned by legacies of what they had to endure, what they did, or what they did not do.

We first identify victims, direct and indirect.[12] Then, in the community or group in whose name the crime was committed, we can distinguish among three subgroups of its members. To the first belong those whose causal responsibility is determined by criminal law: perpetrators, collaborators, military commanders, political leaders, etc. Among group members who are not criminally responsible it is possible to distinguish those who are morally blameworthy and those who are not. To the first subgroup belong bystanders. Bystanders are the group members who are not criminally or politically responsible, but who in different ways supported the regime and its practices. They deserve blame for their failure to observe the distinction between right and wrong – they chose to support wrong beliefs, attitudes and actions. Finally, ‘decent persons’ are those who did nothing wrong. They are neither criminally responsible nor morally blameworthy. Still the question remains if such people are indeed free of any debt to the victims, or if they are confronted with the question of the right attitude to the legacies of the actions committed in their name. I will return to this.

There is an optimistic reading of criminal justice and its impact on the cultural condition. In addition to punishing perpetrators, a well-documented verdict will bring bystanders to realize that they were wrong. This is sometimes called “the capacity of the ICTY to contribute to shrinking the space for denial”.[13] But criminal justice – both international and domestic – failed to contribute to the change in dominant perception of crime in Serbia. When confronted with the legally established facts of a concrete case, the majority of those who reject the truth tend to move denial to another level, arguing for instance that the ICTY is an anti-Serbian institution, or that a particular crime was a “legitimate defense of the national interest”. To repeat, I hold criminal justice to be the central accountability mechanism of transitional justice. In some post-criminal contexts it can indeed contribute towards changing the dominant cultural patterns.[14] But, given the character of the Serbian atrocities, criminal justice cannot change the dominant Serbian attitudes to the recent past. Most importantly, criminal justice cannot address the morally relevant legacies of crime felt by the victims, their group and community.

It follows that an attempt to identify additional mechanisms of response to the recent atrocities should focus on delegitimizing the dominant culture, on the one hand, and attending to the moral entitlements of the victims, on the other hand. If the crime indeed created new identities, then it is necessary to ask about the morally relevant relationship among members of those new groups. I want to argue that in the core of this relationship should be harm-specific entitlements and duties. They are asymmetrical, pointing to the differing positions of the members of the victims’ group, on the one hand, and the perpetrators’ group, on the other hand. The principle of moral equality that has been suspended by the crime remains suspended in transition, though this suspension now acquires a different meaning. It first informs that victims and their community have a special entitlement: they have the right to demand a proper reaction from those associated with the criminal agency. On the other hand, the perpetrators and members of their group do not have any entitlement, or right to demand or expect anything from victims. Their moral position is shaped by the harm-specific duties. More specifically, their moral condition urges appropriate responses from each of them. What is an appropriate response will depend on one’s relation to the crime –whether one did wrong or not – but the core claim is that by changing the group-specific ethics, the crime compromises each member’s moral integrity.

This lack of moral equality between the two groups and their members presents a problem for a reconciliation-centered strategy. Reconciliation requires an agreement of the two groups to overcome the worst legacies of the past and to turn to the common future in a non-conflictual way. It first presupposes that two sides can treat each other as equals. But, again, this equality does not exist, and the question is what can be done to re-establish it. A summary answer is: we, the Serbs, have to acknowledge the crime.[15] Acknowledgment is an act, or, more precisely, a process of responding to the crime, whereby we publicly express and recognize our knowledge of the fact that killing and other forms of most brutal harming of the innocent people took place in the recent past, and that these atrocities was carried out in our name. Acknowledgment of the fact should be accompanied by a normative acknowledgment, which should explicate the following statements: the crime was wrong; it should not have happened; no argument can be advanced to justify it; it must not be denied; we have to find an appropriate response to it; the principal addressees of this response should be victims and their community.

Understood in this way, acknowledgment comes close to the idea of apology. Apology is a complex category, in terms of agency, content, goals, emotional authenticity, and timing.[16] A full theoretical exposition of the concept of apology exceeds the scope of this paper, and I will only shortly address some of its features while remaining focused on the context shaped by the Serbian predicament. In a preliminary sense, apology is an acknowledgment of misconduct followed by a statement of regret. In some more detail, apology is an expressive action, or gesture, through which a person, group, organization, or political community acknowledges that: 1) a wrong (harmful, offensive, inappropriate) action[17] was committed, 2) admits to, or requires the establishment of, responsibility for that action, 3) communicates to the victim its regret, and 4) promises to avoid doing such actions in the future.[18]

Seen in an agency-specific perspective, apology is a process of communication between two sides: perpetrators (and/or those associated with perpetrators, including groups, organizations and political communities to which they belong) and victims (and/or those associated with victims through family ties, emotional commitment, group belonging, or political association). Such a broad identification of the ‘two sides’ informs that actual communicative practices of apology can involve different combinations of actors. In his classical study of apology, Nicholas Tavuchis distinguishes among following combinations of actors: “1. interpersonal apology from one individual to another, or One to One; 2. apology from an individual to a collectivity, or One to Many; 3. apology from a collectivity to an individual, or Many to One; 4. apology from one collectivity to another, or Many to Many”.[19] While acknowledging the importance of these combinations of actors for the case of collective wrongdoing, I will shortly focus only on inter-personal apologies, juxtaposing them to the official ones. This narrow choice is guided by the conviction that – given the character of the Serbian crimes – interpersonal apologies present a baseline for evaluation of the importance of any other combination of actors.

Official apologies are expressions of regret issued by a political regime representing a community or group in the name of which atrocities were committed. Depending on who the principal target of the crime was, the addressee of an official apology can be another political community, ethnic, socio-cultural or racial group, a group defined as such only in the outcome of a particular atrocity, or even a particular individual. Judged by the impressive number of such official actions, we seem to be living in an age of political apology.[20] Leaders of the post-Yugoslav states followed the suit, providing their contributions to this practice.[21] More often than not, their remorseful statements were met with reservations, skepticism, mistrust, or even cynicism and open hostility. The latter two types of reactions, obviously more radical in their negativity, were coming from the citizens and organizations in the states whose leaders issued apologies. Although such negative reactions can be seen as just one more addition to the already rich arsenal of the forms of denial, one thing deserves attention: these often hysterical nationalistic outcries against official apology challenge the idea of representation, which assumes that the citizens have delegated to their government the power of apology. This feature seems to trouble recipients as well. Prevailing skeptical arguments coming for instance from Bosnia focus on the problem of authenticity of official apologies: they are sometimes viewed as insincere, pragmatic, calculated, or at worst even fake. But even if official apologies are not guided by unprincipled motivations, the problem of delegation remains. Being representative, these actions remain mediated, formal, thus often missing the features that victims and their community rightly perceive as necessary conditions of authenticity: an honest attitude of regret, exemplified both by words and a genuine feeling of remorse.

An increased capacity for, and likelihood of, authenticity is perhaps an important reason for turning to inter-personal apology. It is an act in which I address a victim, or those associated with him or her through family ties or different forms of emotional commitment. Content-wise, it is first necessary that I acknowledge both the fact of crime and its moral weight; second, I should state that I hold myself co-responsible for crime; third, I should express an attitude of regret and feelings of sorrow and shame; fourth, I should either promise that I will never repeat such bad acts (in case I causally contributed to collective crime), or that that I will do my best to prevent other members of my community to resort to criminal practice again (in case I myself did nothing wrong).

The last mentioned element of the content of inter-personal apology points to a specific requirement of self-identification on the part of apologizer. When apologizing to another person, I speak in my own name, but I do not speak in the first person singular only. An important feature of authenticity of inter-personal apology is my acknowledgment of the moral weight of my group belonging. In other words: I ought to apologize as a Serbian. This requirement follows from the nature of crime, nature of victims’ suffering, and, consequentially, nature of their legitimate expectations from any member of the community in whose name atrocities were committed. To reiterate, the content of my apology (especially its fourth feature), will depend on how I behaved during the crime – whether I contributed to it in a causally discernible way, or I was a passive bystander, or whether I acted in the way a decent person should act. But nobody is exempted from the duty to apologize. Take for instance a decent member of the Serbian society, somebody who did nothing legally punishable nor morally wrong. She may have never agreed with the crime, She may have publicly distanced herself from it, or even actively resisted it. Still the addressees of her apology – the victims and their loved ones – do not know, nor do they have a duty to know about her decency. If some people were killed, or in different ways harmed by some Serbs, in the name of all Serbs, because they were non-Serbs, we cannot require the people who survived and who are still in different ways suffering to individualize their experience and its source. After the regime change, the members of the targeted group do not have any reason to assume that the values that underlined the atrocities are not at the core of the values of my group anymore. Plainly, in light of the horrifying experience, they have no reason to believe that in the meantime we have become better, more decent, human beings.

Linda Radzik defines the character of the victim’s expectation of apology through the argument of ‘reasonable fear’:

“Even if I believe you did not kill with your own hands, I don’t know how you feel about the people who did. I don’t know if you encouraged or approved of them. I don’t know whether you will act like they did in the future. So I am afraid of you. If you apologize, if you express regret, I will have less reason to be afraid, and maybe we can find a way to live in peace together.” [22]

For all of us who share collective identity with wrongdoers apologizing means acting from duty. Rather than being simply a discrete act, or a series of discrete acts of isolated individuals, inter-personal apology is a process in which each member of the Serbian nation ought to attempt to re-create moral universe as it should be. Note that at stake is not re-creating moral universe as it once had been – those killed in our name cannot be brought back to life; much of harm cannot be undone. But if we acknowledge the bad and explicate our genuine feeling of sorrow for what has happened, we at least symbolically revoke the Serbian practice of excluding the victims and their community from the moral universe of equal human beings.

When apologizing, we have no legitimate entitlements or expectations. I do not have the right to expect forgiveness, or reconciliation. To repeat, I act out of a non-consequential duty. Or, perhaps, the only thing I expect, or hope to achieve, is that my apology will improve the life of the victim.

Accepting Diversities: Human Rights and the Challenges of Reconciliation; Panel “ICTY Decisions and National Narratives: Facts vs. Myths”, Sarajevo, 29-30 April, 2011

Pešč, 12.11.2011.

[1] See, among others: Diane Orentlicher, Shrinking the Space for Denial: The Impact of the ICTY in Serbia (Beograd: Center for Transitional Processes, 2008); Patrice McMahon and David Forsyth, “The ICTY Impact on Serbia: Judicial Romanticism Meets Network Politics”, Human Rights Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2, 2008; Marlene Spoerri-Joksić and Annette Freyberg-Inan, “From Prosecution to Persecution. Perceptions of the ICTY in Serbian Domestic Politics”, ASSR Working Paper, 2/2008, Amsterdam School for Social Science Research; Igor Bandović (ed.), The Activity of ICTY and National War Crimes Judiciary (Beograd: Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, 2005).

[2] Sections one and two offer only summary accounts of the concepts of collective crime and the culture of denial. For an attempt at a more elaborate theoretical exposition, see my book Duty to Respond. Mass Crime, Denial and Collective Responsibility (Budapest: CEU Press, 2011).

[3] Mass crime is a regime-sponsored criminal practice, which is identified on the basis of the following elements: the number of perpetrators; the number of victims; variety of types of harm; the role of political authority; the ideological foundation of crime; the manner in which the victims were chosen; the character of response of the majority of subjects to the wrongdoings and their justification; the grave moral and political consequences that ensued and that go beyond the direct harm and suffering of victims.

[4] “Such ‘facts’ quite simply allow no interpretation, no meaning of the event at all…” – Christopher Browning, “German Memory, Judicial Interrogation, Historical Reconstruction”, in Saul Friedländer (ed.), Probing the Limits of Representation. Nazism and the ‘Final Solution’ (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press: 1992), 30.

[5] Linda Radzik, “Collective Responsibility and Duties to Respond”, Social Theory and Practice, Vol. 27, No. 3, 2001, 456.

[6] Michelle Moody-Adams, Fieldwork in Familiar Places. Morality, Culture, and Philosophy (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997), 83.

[7] Nenad Dimitrijević, “A Continuity of Silence in Serbia: From the Irrelevance of Human Rights to Collective Crime, and Beyond”, in Gurminder Bhambra and Robbie Shilliam (eds.), Silencing Human Rights. Critical Engagements with a Contested Project (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2009).

[8] The culture of denial appears in many guises. For a detailed analysis of its different forms, see Stanley Cohen, States of Denial. Knowing About Atrocities and Suffering (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2001).

[9] Of course, arguing that this culture is a matter of choice implies that there’s nothing ‘organic’, ‘deeply traditional’, or ‘authentic’ in this normative system. It was engineered under the old regime, and it has been kept alive after the change by the conscious political and cultural efforts of today’s elites. Finally, it has been freely accepted by the majority of the population.

[10] According to a December 2009 public opinion survey conducted by the Belgrade Centre for Human Rights, 72 percent of respondents hold a negative attitude to the Tribunal; in specifying reasons for this attitude, respondents claim that the Tribunal is partial, anti-Serbian, illegal, or that it is under US influence. Further, 55 percent believe that Radovan Karadzic is not guilty; 64 percent were against arrestin Ratko Mladić and sending him to the Hague.

[11] In a 2004 poll exploring attitudes toward the Yugoslav wars, only 50 percent of respondents claimed to have heard that Sarajevo had been under siege for over three years, of whom only 40 percent believed the siege indeed happened, and only 16 percent agreed that those events involved war crimes. Similarly, 71 percent heard about the discovery of mass graves of Albanian civilians killed in 1998–1999, of whom 31 percent believed it to be true and 25 percent agreed that it was a war crime. – Igor Bandović (ed.), supra note 1, 336.

[12] This identification would be based on typology of victims’ suffering. See e.g. Jon Elster, Closing the Books. Transitional Justice in Historical Perspective (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), 168.

[13] Diane Orentlicher, Shrinking the Space…supra note, 1.

[14] See e.g. Mark Osiel, Mass Atrocity, Collective Memory, and the Law (New Brunswick: Transaction Publishers, 1999); Carlos Santiago Nino, Radical Evil on Trial (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996); Ruti Teitel, Transitional Justice (New York: Oxford University Press, 2000).

[15] Two reports prepared by Diane Orentlicher – on the impact of the ICTY in Bosnia and Serbia – provide an empirical account of conflicting moral expectations and views. The dominant Serbian attitude is refusal to acknowledge the fact and the moral impact of the crime; the dominant Bosnian attitude is the expectation that such an acknowledgment will be formulated and expressed; – Diane Orentlicher, That Someone Guilty Be Punished: The Impact of the ICTY in Bosnia (New York: Open Society Institute, 2010); Diane Orentlicher, Shrinking the Space…supra note, 1.

[16] See e.g. Nick Smith, I Was Wrong. The Meaning of Apologies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), 28; Aaron Lazare, On Apology (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004), 22; Luc Bovens, “A Plea for Apologies”, Manuscript (in file with N.D.), 2007, at

[17] ‘Action’ is here understood in a broad sense, to include expressions of wrong value judgments, attitudes, beliefs, emotions, etc.

[18] For a detailed analysis of these and related definitional elements of the concept of apology, see Kathleen Gill, “The Moral Functions of an Apology”, in Rodney Roberts (ed.), Injustice and Rectification (New York: Peter Lang, 2005), p. 112. et passim; Nicholas Tavuchis, Mea Culpa. A Sociology of Apology and Reconciliation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1991), 15.

[19] Nicholas Tavuchis, supra note, 17, 45.

[20] For empirical overview and conceptualization of official apologies, see e.g. Melissa Nobles, The Politics of Official Apologies (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), Kindle Edition, Location 136-38; Ruti Teitel, “The Transitional Apology”, in Elazar Barkan and Alexander Karn, Taking Wrongs Seriously. Apologies and Reconciliation (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006), Kindle Edition, Location 1475-79.

[21] For details, see Žarka Radoja, “Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word”, E-novine (Beograd), 29/10/2010

[22] Linda Radzik, supra note 5, p. 465.