If anyone needed convincing that we live in a culture of war, one only needs to read and listen to the commercial media this month. Ukraine, Palestine/Israel, Libya, Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, all are exploding with military encouragement and armaments from the United States, NATO, Russia, Saudi Arabia, etc.

But the media does not tell us how the culture of peace is advancing at the same time. Last month we highlighted the advances in participatory budgeting that contribute to a culture of peace. This month we highlight another related advance, restorative justice.

As described in a CPNN article, restorative justice is spreading around the world. It began in the ancient pre-colonial traditions of Africa. In recent times, it inspired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of South Africa led by Archbishop Desmond, which played such an important role in the transition from apartheid to democracy under the government headed by Nelson Mandela. And more recently it has been adopted in Brazil thanks in great part to the work of Judge Leoberto Brancher. As described in CPNN this month, it has now been formally adopted at a national level by the Brazilian judicial system.

Now restorative justice is being taken up in the United States. In recent months there have been press reports about initiatives in Oakland, Los Angeles and Sonoma County, California, Boulder Colorado and Burlington Vermont. The principles of restorative justice are clearly described in the CPNN article quoting from Sonoma County: "Restorative Justice is rooted in the practices of indigenous societies, which saw individual actions that harm, hurt and kill as a disease of the culture. They did not perceive of the world as being made up of good guys and bad guys . . .


Restorative justice conference

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. . . They recognized misbehaviors as either the symptom of a disease or rooted in ignorance. They took on the responsibility to teach and heal the individuals who were reflecting the failures of the culture. Experience has taught us that victims are not healed through revenge, and that people are not rehabilitated through the cruelty of prisons. We are healed when we feel seen, understood and offered whatever rehabilitation is needed to become a contributing member of our community."

Colorado, by the extensive involvement of volunteers for restorative justice, has greatly reduced repeat criminal offenses, and Vermont has a statute dating from 2000 that affirms restorative justice as a state policy.

Meanwhile, in the face of war, there are strong initiatives for peace. In response to the terrible destruction of Gaza by Israel, Jimmy Carter and Mary Robinson (from the Elders) and Amnesty International propose a way forward towards peace. Always there are many ongoing culture of peace initiatives that link Palestinians and Israelis at the local level such as those described in the CPNN articles about the "vision camp" and the initiative "Accelerating Women Entrepreneurs." And this last month Israel saw its largest peace demonstration in recent years.


Trinidad and Tobago: Students told to create a culture of peace in classrooms


IIPT World Symposium: Cultivating Sustainable and Peaceful Communities and Nations Through Tourism, Culture and Sports


UN rights office praises identification of 114th Argentinian 'Grandson of Plaza de Mayo'


For Nigerian girls, education is the key that opens doors to progress

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on peace education

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on sustainable development

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on human rights

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on women's equality


Hong Kong’s Occupy Central pushes for ‘genuine democracy’


Peace Summit 2014 to take place this Saturday on the Ecuador-Colombia border


UN High Level Forum on the Culture of Peace


Hiroshima peace declaration on 69th anniversary of atomic bombing

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on democratic participation

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on tolerance and solidarity

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on free flow of information

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on disarmament

Please send us articles about the work of your organization and other culture of peace news. (see We look forward to hearing from you.

Peace, through struggle,

The CPNN Team