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John Braithwaite: standards, ‘bottom-up’ praxis and ex-combatants in restorative justice

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Drawing upon the work of John Braithwaite, this article examines the role of ex-combatants in developing community based restorative justice as part of the broader conflict resolution process in Northern Ireland. The article examines the interplay between human rights and restorative justice standards of practice, contests over legitimacy and the role of community based restorative justice programmes as a counterweight to ‘top down’ state formalism in justice delivery. The paper argues that Braithwaite’s personal contribution as well as his scholarship has been a central influence in the ‘respectablisation’ of these ex-combatant led projects.

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... In a similar vein in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kiyala (2019) has argued that restorative justice is the appropriate framework to address both the reintegrative processes required to address the needs of former child soldiers, but also efforts to encourage some degree of reconciliation between such individuals and the victims and communities harmed by their past actions. Finally, with colleagues, McEvoy has written extensively about the role of ex-combatants in establishing and managing community based restorative justice in Northern Ireland as an alternative to paramilitary punishment violence and as a bridge between previously estranged communities and the criminal justice system, particularly the police (McEvoy and Mika 2002;McEvoy and Albert 2021). ...
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http://johnbraithwaite.com/monographs/
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http://johnbraithwaite.com/monographs/ Following a bloody civil war, peace consolidated slowly and sequentially in Bougainville. That sequence was of both a top-down architecture of credible commitment in a formal peace process and layer upon layer of bottom-up reconciliation. Reconciliation was based on indigenous traditions of peacemaking. It also drew on Christian traditions of reconciliation, on training in restorative justice principles and on innovation in womens’ peacebuilding. Peacekeepers opened safe spaces for reconciliation, but it was locals who shaped and owned the peace. There is much to learn from this distinctively indigenous peace architecture. It is a far cry from the norms of a ‘liberal peace’ or a ‘realist peace’. The authors describe it as a hybrid ‘restorative peace’ in which ‘mothers of the land’ and then male combatants linked arms in creative ways. A danger to Bougainville’s peace is weakness of international commitment to honour the result of a forthcoming independence referendum that is one central plank of the peace deal.
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This article suggests that opportunities exist to harness the potential of history and citizenship education with the processes of transition in developing programmes, which support young people in exploring conflict and the challenges associated with attending to its legacy. Drawing on the experience of Northern Ireland, it is suggested that the narratives of those who have been involved directly as both combatants in conflict and latterly as agents of change in their communities provide unique opportunities for young people to reflect on these issues. By way of illustration, an account of one such initiative is presented: From Prison to Peace: Learning From the Experience of Political Ex-Prisoners; a structured programme which invites young people to engage directly with loyalist and republican ex-combatants in the Northern Ireland conflict. The article suggests that such programmes have the potential to assist young people in exploring the complexity of conflict and the intricacies of transition. Furthermore, it is suggested that the relationships which exist between these ex-combatants arguably can challenge sectarian perspectives and foster capacity for ‘political generosity’ towards those with opposing political aspirations.
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In this set of three essays, originally presented as the 2005 Hamlyn Lectures, Conor Gearty considers whether human rights can survive the challenges of the war on terror, the revival of political religion, and the steady erosion of the world's natural resources. He also looks deeper than this to consider the fundamental question: How can we tell what human rights are? In his first essay, Gearty asks how the idea of human rights needs to be made to work in our age of relativism, uncertainty and anxiety. In the second, he assesses how the idea of human rights has coped with its incorporation in legal form in the UK Human Rights Act, arguing that the record is much better and more democratic than many human rights enthusiasts allow. In his final essay, Gearty confronts the challenges that may destroy the language of human rights for the generations that follow us.
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