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Words on words.

Christie, Nils
June 4, 2015

Source: (2013) Restorative Justice: An International Journal. 1(1):15-19.

Restorative justice has been the general designator within the field. It appears in UN
documents, in Council of Europe documents, and in articles and books. And the designation sneaks into other languages as well—un-translated.
To me, it sounds like a bad choice.
The worst part of it is ‘justice’. It leads us straight into the institution of Law. Lady
Justice, blindfolded with sword in hand. If anything, the activities we are interested in
have no need for a sword. And no need for blindfolding anybody. Blindfolding is a device
for preventing undue interference and thereby hindering abuse of the sword. Organisations for alternative ways of handling conflicts are not there to create pain, but to create
understanding. Penal law emphasises justice in terms of treating each case with equal
gravity. But few acts are equal. And no human beings are completely equal to anybody
else. Lawyers attempt to handle this unpleasant fact of life by looking away from most
elements in what they are to compare. I often provoke law students by saying that they
go through years of systematic training in what not to mention in court. In the end they are left with a few elements, and can thereby create an illusion of comparing equal cases
and finding solutions claimed to be ‘just’.
The alternative way to handle conflicts is based on the opposite principle. Here is no
dominance of ready-made decisions. What is relevant is what the parties find relevant.
The dominant goal is to bring the parties so close that they can see each other, and
increase to the utmost the amount of information that can create a basis for handling
the ongoing conflict. (excerpt)


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