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The fourth conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice intended to broaden the perspective on restorative justice whilst retaining the core topic of ‘justice’.
In this conference, the European Forum, for the first time, explored in detail what lies beyond the ‘classical’ application of restorative justice. The conference provided space for looking beyond the law and touching upon the relation of restorative justice not only to criminal justice, but also to distributive and social justice.
The central topic of the conference was how social responses to harmful acts could better meet the needs of victims, as well as how wrongdoers could take responsibility for their acts and make reparation to their victims and the community.
Harm can be caused by everyday social interactions, criminal offences, but also by abuse of political power or wars. Accordingly, the conference provided place for presentations discussing the potential of the restorative justice philosophy in community and school settings, in less and in more serious crimes as well as in post-war countries where masses of human beings became victims of harm-causing.
Almost 300 participants from 33 countries and the nearly 50 presentations that were given together with the high number of interactive workshops provided a highly interdisciplinary milieu in which both the theoretical as well as the practical issues of restorative justice could be explored in more details. It was emphasised that on the one hand we need to search for the ways in which the restorative approach can be effectively spread in different spheres of our social lives.
On the other hand, we need to keep our critical approach concerning the existing programmes and regularly monitor whether the practice still reflects to the initial principles. As Lode Walgrave concluded, similarly to Sisyphus, we might never manage to roll the rock to the top of the hill, since punishment and violence can hardly be eliminated in the world.
Nevertheless, we need to keep pushing the rock and promote non-violent conflict resolution approaches in every possible ways.
We should keep our faith that people – wherever they are – are able and willing to actively take part in building/maintaining social harmony in their lives...
The conference programme is available here.
My presentation at the conference is available here.
The photos about the conference can be seen here.
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