Desistance, Social Justice & Peacebuilding

With this year’s theme of the conference “Beyond crime: pathways to desistance, social justice, and peacebuilding” we aim to broaden our scope of restorative justice, and therefore try to look “beyond” its application to the criminal justice system.  Thus we hope to bring together a diverse range of perspectives focusing at different levels (the personal, the societal, the political), and inspired by a multitude of backgrounds and disciplines (such as criminology, social and political sciences, peace research, etc.). The three selected themes of the conference are highly interrelated, and offer opportunities to deepen our understanding, and to critically reflect on the limits and the potentials of restorative justice in an increasingly complex, intercultural, and divided world.

The European Forum for Restorative Justice welcomes presentations that address these main themes, but contributions on new developments and innovative approaches in RJ will be considered as well.

Desistance – Do RJ experiences help offenders to desist from crime? And if so, how does RJ as an “alternative” approach to crime control and punishment relate to current criminal justice policies and punishment models where risk assessment and evidence-based approaches prevail?  RJ – as a positive and forward-looking approach – is often linked to the development of the Good Lives Model of Offender Rehabilitation. To what extent do RJ and desistance principles permeate in the work of prison officers and in probation work? Papers and workshops that look at these developments are welcomed.

Social Justice – How can RJ contribute to social justice, especially in an increasingly intercultural society? RJ is often said to be limited in addressing underlying causes of crime. By simply holding offenders accountable for the wrongdoings RJ overlooks the structural inequalities and fails to address a broader network of responsibilities. For RJ interventions to be meaningful and sustainable new alliances with a wider range of organisations and social institutions are needed. The workshops under this theme are invited to re-think, and probably to establish, the relation between restorative justice and social justice.

Peacebuilding – The central aim of this theme is to look at the value of RJ principles in the agenda of peacebuilding in divided, transitional, and post-conflict societies. Since several decades many countries emerging from conflict have opted for so-called transitional justice mechanisms to help and deal with their past. Gradually also RJ principles became introduced into several of these mechanisms. Papers and workshops on innovative developments or creative applications of RJ in peacebuilding settings are welcomed.