Source: (2004) Visiting Experts' Papers, 123rd International Senior Seminar, Resource Material Series No. 63, pp. 111-123. Tokyo: United Nations Asia and Far East Institute For the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders. Downloaded 10 February 2005.

Restorative justice has ancient and widespread roots. Processes that focused on repair of harm and acknowledgement of wrongdoing were a part of most ancient cultures and are still practiced today among many indigenous people around the world. Many of us use such practices in our families and social communities. However, the formal justice system in Western societies in the late 20th century was not based on the philosophy of restorative justice. Several streams of change have influenced and informed the contemporary movement to shift the basis of the formal justice system to a restorative one. The feminist movement raised questions about male models of justice that are rule-based but not sufficiently contextual or caring. The victims’ movement illuminated the woeful lack of attention to victim needs and interests. The shift in social work from a deficit orientation to a strengths orientation challenged basic assumptions in criminal justice practices. The alternative dispute resolution movement in the legal field offered new models for working through conflict. In the field of business the movement toward flattening hierarchies and empowering workers marked a shift from relying on ‘power over’ for the desired ends to using ‘power with’. The communitarian movement suggested that active community participation in decisions affecting community life is an essential element of a healthy society. The growing movement for recognition of indigenous understandings and ways of life has provided a conceptual framework of inter-relatedness and practical models for community based responses to wrong-doing. The restorative justice framework is consistent with all these streams of change and gains energy and insight from the work in those fields. (excerpt)


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