The Political Apologies Database

We are proud to introduce the Political Apologies Database!

The open-access database mapped and compared political apologies offered by states or state representatives for human rights violations in the (recent) past. The extensive and unique database, accessible to academics, the public, and the press, shows a strong increase in the number of apologies in the past two decades. More than 70 countries have now expressed regret for a variety of past wrongs. A significant portion of the more than 350 apologies in the database has to do with World War II; apologies for slavery have been offered only sparsely.

Many countries struggle with how to deal with past wrongdoings. Increasingly, they apologize for human rights violations. Last week the mayor of Amsterdam, Femke Halsema, apologized for the role of the Amsterdam city government in the colonial slavery and slave trade, which immediately raised the question: will the Netherlands government now apologize as well? 

The Netherlands appears to be an average performer, measured by the number of apologies offered and how extensively and explicitly past wrongs are acknowledged. The leaders are still Japan, Germany, Canada, and the US. Apologies are offered mainly by liberal democracies and by countries transitioning from authoritarian to more democratic rule. In doing so, apologies seem to have become a means par excellence to profess and affirm liberal values. 

The Database can be accessed via this website under the tab Database. Data can be explored via the world map and the timeline, and more information can be found on the Apology Detail page. For questions or information regarding the project or the database, please contact Juliette Schaafsma ( or Marieke Zoodsma (