Restorative Justice and Armed Conflict

John Braithwaite, Australian National University

Both the restorative justice and responsive regulation paradigms are useful for reconfiguring how to struggle for world peace. It is argued that this is especially true of the conditions since 1989, where war has been widespread but not about confrontations between major powers. While it remains true that major powers can use their clout to mediate disputes in the shadow of a pyramid of coercive interventions, this rarely solves the underlying sources of late modern wars. We find the sources of these wars are often the fragmentation and low legitimacy of weak states, ethnic divisions that are prised open by warmongers who seek to plunder weak states as much as to rule them. The capacity of bottom-up restorative justice to build state legitimacy, heal ethnic division and undercut hatemongers has a distinctive relevance to these new geopolitical conditions. However, a responsive global regulatory strategy is also needed to complement and connect restorative peacemaking to top-down preventive diplomacy and negotiated cessation of hostilities.

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Updated 05/20/2006