Building Restorative Justice Nation Wide - Ivo Aertsen

Elements of successful implementation of restorative justice (RJ) at a national level. This in itself is a key question, not only for a pioneer country such as Canada, but for all our nations. RJ has come to be accepted on the world stage as an innovative approach to cnme and injustice. It is promoted by international and regional institutions such as the United Nations and the Council of Europe. Many countries have adopted legislation on RJ, and various countries do provide organisational frameworks and funding.

Despite this political endorsement and institutionalisation, Restorative Justice is far from mainstream in these countries. Whilst both legislation and evidence convincingly testify to the promise of RJ, it remains on the margins. This creates a paradox. Even in countries where there is a sound legal basis and an adequate infrastructure for RJ programmes, the number of cases dealt with remains very low compared to the number of cases that, according to legal provisions, could be referred. Why is RJ so frequently neglected as a tool for addressing injustice?

How should this paradox be addressed?


Restorative Justice (RJ) is not a program, but a way of looking at crime. It can be

defined as a response to crime that focuses on restoring the losses suffered by victims,

holding offenders accountable for the harm they have caused, and building peace within




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