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Conference 3 November: Theory and practice of restorative justice

17 October 2022
This one-day conference brings together scholars and practitioners to discuss the theory and practice of restorative justice in transitional contexts and the lessons and challenges from Colombia and other experiences. It aims to shed light and discuss, among other things, what are the possibilities and limitations of restorative justice in transitional contexts, as well as the perceptions of various stakeholders at the national and international levels.

Accountability for gross human rights violations and international crimes, such as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide, tend to be promoted at the international level as a retributive model of legal justice. However, scholars and practitioners from different fields have noted the limitations of prosecutions in achieving such goals in transitional contexts. Where there are large numbers of perpetrators, victims, and affected communities who must live together after mass violence, the goals of regaining trust, transforming relationships, recognizing and participating victims, and reintegrating offenders become critical. Therefore, in recent years, restorative justice has gained attention as an alternative or complementary way of addressing mass violence. 

Colombia is a recent example of a transitional society where a restorative justice approach has been adopted. In 2016, as part of a comprehensive peace agreement, different non-judicial and judicial mechanisms were established, including a Truth Commission, a Special Unit for the Search for Persons, and a Special Jurisdiction for Peace, an independent judicial mechanism with a mixed restorative and retributive nature. The international community has supported the Colombian peace agreement and it has been considered “an inspiration for all those striving to end deadly conflict around the world through negotiations”. However, several questions remain regarding the theory and practice of restorative justice in transitional contexts, including in the case of Colombia.

The conference is organized by the Center for International Criminal Justice (CICJ), VU Amsterdam, the Netherlands Institute for the Study of Crime and Law Enforcement (NSCR) and is supported by the research grant number 406-15-255 from the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO).


The programme takes place from 10:00-17:15 hrs Amsterdam time at VU Amsterdam, physically in building OZW, Room Alma 1/2, and online via Zoom (link provided upon registration). The full programme with abstracts can be accessed here.

10:00-10:30 - Registration and coffee
10:45-12:15 - Panel I - Lessons from different transitional justice contexts
12:15-13:15 - Lunch break
13:15-14:45 - Panel II - The Colombian case
14:45-15:15 - Coffee break
15:15-16:45 - Panel III - Theoretical considerations
16:45-17:15 - Closing comments


Please register via this link

For questions about the conference, please send an email to Beatriz Mayans Hermida (bmayans[at]