Source: (2001) In Reconciliation, Justice, and Coexistence: Theory & Practice, ed. Mohammed Abu-Nimer, pp. 129-143. Lanham, Maryland: Lexington Books.
Commonly, justice is construed in terms of retribution, or in terms of stability in social order and morality. Montville, building on restorative justice theory, adds that it is important to conceive of justice as more than the enforcement of laws or the absence of conflict. Justice should be understood to involve progress toward the optimum environment for human life. How does this work out in situations of conflict, especially long-term conflict? Montville contends that human needs theory is essential to understand the genesis of political, ethnic, and sectarian conflict, and to develop effective conflict resolution strategies to pursue genuine peace and justice. He applies this by examining human needs and the defense of the self, individual and group reaction to traumatic loss, and public and private acts of healing.
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