Towards An Inclusive Peace
Restoring Communities, Advancing Justice
by Dr. Carl Stauffer
Towards an Inclusive Peace 2018 was organized by an incredible team of 10 alumni of the Caux Scholars Program (CSP) under the able leadership of Johannes Langer (Austria) and Eliana Jimeno (Colombia), who both took part in CSP in 2012. This was the second of a three-year cycle of forums exploring how to transform violent extremism.
We as CSP are proud of the work that our former scholars are doing to contribute to the proliferation of IofC’s vision and to the cause of peace in the world. Having experienced significant personal and professional transformation through taking part in the CSP, they are giving back to IofC through the time and energy they put into TIP.
TIP is exposing a whole new network of peacebuilders to the work of IofC and vice versa. It is the first forum solely organized and managed by young CSP professionals. Participants not only shared stories of inspiration, but also focused intentionally on building skill-sets.
TIP 2018 chose to focus on restorative justice as an approach to preventing violent extremism. The application of restorative justice has many similarities to the original values of IofC – honesty, purity, unselfishness and love – along with hospitality, service, storytelling, forgiveness and reconciliation.
The term ‘restorative justice’ implies that something has been disrupted and needs to be restored. Restorative justice focuses on the accountability and responsibility of the perpetrator through acknowledging the harm committed. Apology involves not only words but also action, ‘doing sorry’ as well as ‘saying sorry’.
Restorative justice is based on the belief that there is the potential for personal transformation. Challenging though this approach may be, particularly when human lives have been lost, it acknowledges that perpetrators are also human beings. They have their own story to tell which is likely to shed light on their journey into radicalization.
Therefore, when they are willing to reflect, acknowledge and ultimately change, they should get another chance.
This approach does not negate the rights of victims. Instead it puts them at the centre, recognizing the harm victims have suffered, and caring for their needs, beyond sentencing the wrong-doer.
Restorative justice practices should be facilitated by professionals or community leaders in a space that is safe for everyone involved. Participation is voluntary for all concerned, and should be an informed choice based on a knowledge of what such a process would look like. Victims should not be pressured into the process but invited to start a journey of coming to terms with what has happened, that may take months, years or even a lifetime.
Instead of promoting the conventional security, military and police response to violent extremism, TIP’s organizers believe in a human-centered approach based on community-led initiatives, which draw on the power of personal transformation as practiced by IofC and explore ways in which people who have been radicalized and who sympathize with violent extremism thought can be brought back.