European Restorative Justice Forum – Belfast, 11-14 June 2014

Representatives of the Foundation took part in the 8th conference organized by the European Restorative Justice Forum in Belfast in June 2014. The visit was funded by the Polish National Council for Research and Development, as part of the project called “Pilot implementation of the community court model in Poland” (IS-1/039/NCBR/2014). The topic of the conference was Beyond Crime: Pathways to desistance, social justice and peacebuilding. Most speakers focused on issues of conflict-solving in multicultural contexts, as well as desistance and transitional justice. From our perspective, the field trip to a community justice center in Northern Belfast was especially interesting. The center is run by the Northern Irish Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA, www.nicva.org) and uses restorative justice measures to help build and maintain peace between the local Protestant and Catholic communities. Among many speakers, Jim McCarthy, vice-director of Community Restorative Justice Ireland, and prof. Kieran McEvoy of Queen’s University Belfast, spoke convincingly about practical challenges of implementing restorative justice solutions in strongly divided communities.

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