News & events


12 October 2018

Saying sorry: Nhlanhla Nene and the value of the apology

Mia Swart

While Nene’s apology does not diminish his culpability, it does have considerable moral and nation-building value

n 2002, the Dutch government did a remarkable thing. On the release of a damning report from the Netherlands Institute for War Documentation, which laid much of the blame for the 1995 Srebrenica massacre on Dutch politicians, the entire Dutch cabinet resigned in a show of responsibility.

The Dutch government, then under prime minister Wim Kok, publicly acknowledged that it could have done more to prevent the slaughter of up to 8,000 Bosnian Muslims at Srebrenica by Serbian forces in 1995.

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Mia Swart is research director of the Democracy and Governance Unit of the Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC). Her research focus is on transitional justice, international criminal law and comparative constitutional law. She is currently a Visiting Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand and a non-resident fellow at Brookings Doha Center and a fellow of the Helen Suzman Foundation Before joining HSRC, she worked as Professor of International Law at the University of Johannesburg and Associate Professor at the University of the Witwatersrand. She previously worked as Assistant Professor of Public International Law and Global Justice at Leiden University from which she earned her PhD in 2006. She received research grants from the Alexander von Humboldt foundation in 2007 and 2009. In 2012, she worked at the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law in London. Her work has been cited by South African courts as well as by the International Criminal Court. Her co-edited book ‘The Limits of Transition: The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission 20 Years After’ was published in 2017.

Read her full bio here.

Mia Swart