Source: (2003) Paper presented at the Sixth International Conference on Restorative Justice. June 2003. The Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University. Downloaded 2 October 2003.

Crimes of war or state-sponsored terror test the limits of any justice system. In no other situation are so many implicated in such extreme violence. Paradoxically, these serious crimes are the least likely to be prosecuted. In the unstable post-war period, when factions still possess arms and amnesty is often a condition of peace, newly democratic governments are rarely able to conduct trials. The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TREC) suggested an alternative approach to post-conflict accountability: restorative justice. But, lacking redress mechanisms and participant involvement in the amnesty decision, it was incomplete. This paper argues that restorative justice may well hold possibilities for addressing crimes of violent mass conflict but it has not been sufficiently thought through to inform post-conflict justice and peacebuilding policy. Drawing on her experience in Bosnia, Croatia and Sierra Leone, the author argues that problems with definitions of crime and community in restorative justice literature become particularly acute in mass conflict settings. She also discusses the criteria that determine the suitability of a crime or offender for restorative justice processes after mass atrocity, the use of traditional ‘restorative’ processes and expectations of reconciliation and forgiveness for peacebuilding purposes. Abstract courtesy of the Centre for Restorative Justice, Simon Fraser University, www.sfu.ca/cfrj.


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