Citizen Apologies and Forgiveness as Diplomatic Gestures of Peace
AbstractThe paper explores the extent to which citizen apologies and forgiveness are important tools of citizen diplomacy and peace-making efforts. In recent years, there has been an increase in the frequency of apologies by state leaders and research into the reasons for these apologies. However, there has been little research into apologies by citizens in citizen diplomacy efforts. This paper seeks to fill a gap in research by exploring the role of citizen apologies and forgiveness in citizen diplomacy efforts in transnational conflicts. Conflicts are no longer just state-to-state, but instead involve a whole host of state and non-state actors alike both in perpetrating conflicts and in peacemaking efforts. As such, there is a need to explore the diplomatic tools needed in building dialogue and improving relations between states that have a history of conflict. This research looks at case studies of conflicts involving Bosnia/Serbia and Libya/America. It can be concluded that citizens, as members of a collective, have the right and moral responsibility to apologise for offences of their states. These apologies do not serve as official legal acts of contrition, but as helpful diplomatic gestures of good will used to improve relations between states that have a history of conflict.