Source: (2004) Paper presented at "New Frontiers in Restorative Justice: Advancing Theory and Practice", Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University at Albany, New Zealand, 2-5 December.

During the final stages of the Contra War in Nicaragua in the mid and late 1980s, the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission promoted the formation of peace commissions in villages and towns in the most conflicted areas. CEPAD, the development agency of the Nicaraguan Protestant churches, actively worked to form Peace Commissions in the Nueva Guinea region in the southeastern part of the country. The local seven-person Peace Commissions were trained to work in conflict resolution so they could do peacemaking at the grassroots in support of efforts by the National Peace and Reconciliation Commission and other groups to carry forward the national peace processes. After official peace accords were signed the Commissions continued to work on the transition to national peace by helping to facilitate the reintegration of demobilized combatants into their respective communities as part of the post war reconstruction. This rebuilding has taken many years. The Commissions' work has been increasingly valued as their numbers and scope has grown. Today some 140 local peace commissions continue to function, but now their challenge is to work with community problems, some of which might be best addressed with restorative justice informed responses. With decades of war now behind them, their work has shifted from peacemaking and the reintegration of ex-combatants to peacebuilding and the challenges posed by social disorganization and crime in their communities. As the Peace Commissions now work to strengthen civil society in an extended period of social reconstruction, how might, or do, they reframe or reconceptualize their work in peacemaking to also include restorative justice so they can build more peaceful and stronger communities? This paper will explore how this reframing is taking place and the challenges it represents. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Justice and Peace Development, Massey University, http://justpeace.massey.ac.nz.