Source: (2001) Contemporary Justice Review. 4(1):49-58.
In the large cities of the Netherlands, working class neighborhoods are very heterogeneous. This is not caused by difference of lifestyle but by ethnic diversity. More than half the people are of foreign origin and many of these people do not speak dutch. This diversity has been the source of a growing number of conflicts among residents which formal institutions of social justice (courts, police, professionals of housing corporations) are not capable of solving. For this reason two housing corporations in Rotterdam started an experiment with community mediation in 1997 through the use of multi-ethnic community boards. These boards function as mediatory panels for settling disputes between people in communities that are approximately 4000 residents strong. Trained volunteers living in the same communities as the disputing parties, make up these reparative boards. This form of alternative dispute resolution is both an attempt to rejuvenate the idea of community and a new way to try to reconcile differences between people in behalf of durable relationships. This paper examines the functioning and effects of these community boards
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