Queering Reparations Under International Law: Damages, Suffering, and (Heteronormative) Kinship

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It is a long-standing principle of international law that every breach of an international obligation that results in harm gives rise to a duty to make adequate reparation. Reparations can take different forms, from the ideal of full restitution to the provision of satisfaction, and the payment of compensation. Notwithstanding reparation's main aim––to ameliorate, if not eradicate, the detrimental consequences of an internationally wrongful act–– it also serves other purposes, such as reinforcing the authority of the norm breached, acknowledging the injury, and recognizing the bearer of harm (the victim). This essay adopts a queer approach to examine the role played by reparation–– in particular, compensation––in determining what (and whose) suffering matters to international law. With a focus on internationally wrongful acts that result in deprivation of life, this piece discusses who is seen as worthy of redress when a violation of the right to life has taken place, as this, in turn, speaks volumes about who is seen as legally entitled to suffer, to mourn and, ultimately, to love. This essay argues that reparation orders from international human rights courts offer a valuable opportunity for re-evaluating––and perhaps even overcoming––heteronormative understandings of kinship.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-9
JournalAJIL Unbound
Publication statusPublished - 17 Jan 2022


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