Back to RJ Archive

Restorative Justice is a Human Right: A Transformative Discourse Within UN Paradigms.

Smith, Melodee
June 4, 2015

Source: (2005) Summary of paper presented at an Ancillary Restorative Justice Session, Eleventh United Nations Congress on Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice, April 20, Bangkok, Thailand. Downloaded 14 October 2005.

Some justice systems are not broken or flawed, but are rather working precisely the way
they were designed to work against marginalized human beings, including the poor, people of
color and the mentally impaired. Crime prevention and criminal justice programs are sometimes
created by intellectually dishonest civil and political campaigns that falsely promise safety and
well being when enacting tough laws and applying severe sentences. Victims of crime and
accused offenders, even when provided with guarantees to due process and equal protection,
are too often pawns in a highly discretionary legal process. Principles of criminal justice and
human rights collide as adversarial systems seek retribution.
While the criminal justice system focuses on broken laws, who is guilty and how the
guilty should be punished, the UN is in the embryonic stages of embracing a restorative justice
paradigm that focuses on broken relationships, who is in need and how well being and social
harmony may be restored. Restorative justice practices acknowledge who is hurting, why
stakeholders are suffering and what harms must be addressed to restore impaired dignity. With
accountability, equity and integrity, restorative justice is a justice that heals relationships
ravaged by conflict, violence, hatred and greed. Finally, restorative justice, and not just justice
designed to punish, is being recognized as an emerging human right for victims, offenders and
the community. The basis of this acknowledgement can be found in the Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.(excerpt)


AbstractCourtsHuman RightsStatutes and Legislation
Support the cause

We've Been Restoring Justice for More Than 40 Years

Your donation helps Prison Fellowship International repair the harm caused by crime by emphasizing accountability, forgiveness, and making amends for prisoners and those affected by their actions. When victims, offenders, and community members meet to decide how to do that, the results are transformational.

Donate Now