Backward-looking reparations and structural injustice
The ‘structural injustice’ framework is an increasingly influential way of thinking about historical injustice. Structural injustice theorists argue against reparations for historical injustice on the grounds that our focus should be on forward-looking responsibility for contemporary structural injustice. Through the use of a case study – the Caribbean Community (CARICOM’s) 10-Point Plan for reparations from 2014 – I argue that this reasoning is flawed. Backward-looking reparations can be justified on the basis of state liability over time. The value of backward-looking reparations is that they ensure that historical perpetrators do not evade their reparative obligations and that affected communities are taken seriously. However, I argue that this backward-looking approach should be supplemented by a forward-looking structural injustice approach and the ‘social connection model’ of responsibility, which can a) expand the scope of responsible agents and forms of injustice that warrant repair and b) explain how citizens living now can be expected to pay for crimes of the past.