Happy international restorative justice week and the era of globalisation


Happy International Restorative Justice week 2016! It is that time of the year, I get the pleasure to write my annual blog*. Empathically guessing has never been my communication style. So, here it is and I hope you enjoy it.

First, congratulations to all the practitioners, researchers and campaigners from around the world who kept the real restorative justice (RJ) flame burning. Some have called me "dramatic". To honour this title, I must reiterate my grave concerns for the route that the RJ train has taken. The resilience that is now required from the RJ movement is rather demanding particularly when it comes to defending RJ's founding values of empowerment and equality for all parties involved in conflict. You know who you are - thank you for continuing to inspire me with your work and sucrifices.

And now I turn to say thank you to the many individuals who have trusted the RJ process whether our system calls them "victims" or "offenders" (here, I must also ask: "will we ever move beyond the labels and see the pain and the bond that bind us all?")

I have always advocated in favour of work (research, policy or practice) that advances the RJ movement even if it means accepting some realities and indeed limitations. We have long exited the era of innovation and unfounded claims. We are also living in an era of globalisation and yet fear and jingoism.

Following the November tragic events in Paris last year, I called for a new role for RJ that responds to current global needs for safety and security. As my faith was shaken, I asked: “If restorative justice (as an ethos, a value and yes ... as an international ideology) has the potential to bring out the best of us, help us reconcile and empower the weak, then how can people like me regain their belief in it, following events such as those in Paris two days ago?” A number of fellow researchers tried to restore my lost faith only to have it questioned again on 22 March 2016 as I was watching the multiple bombings in Brussels.

Soon, I was to find comfort in these words: “the pursuit of restorative justice is grounded in a social-ethical vision that focuses on