Restorative Justice Amid Polarization: Insights from Joakim Hope Soltveit & Miriam Attias

In a world teetering on the edges of deep divisions and intergroup clashes, the discussion led by Joakim Hope Soltveit and Miriam Attias provided a beacon of hope. These two seasoned experts from Norway and Finland, respectively, cast a spotlight on the invaluable role restorative justice can play in navigating polarisation, intergroup conflict, and hate crime.

Joakim Hope Soltveit, hailing from Norway’s National Mediation Service, Konfliktraadet, possesses a profound expertise in restorative justice, especially concerning youths, violent extremism, and hate crimes. Miriam Attias, an independent mediator from Finland, carries her wealth of experience in community, neighbourhood, and workplace conflicts, with a particular focus on identity and intergroup clashes, as well as depolarisation strategies.

Their discussion was rooted in the foundational principles of restorative justice, eloquently shedding light on the core values that drive this transformative movement. By harking back to these basics, Soltveit and Attias emphasized the paramount importance of ensuring that every individual involved in a restorative process feels seen, heard, and understood. They laid stress on how practitioners can draw upon these principles in the face of conflicts exacerbated by deep-seated prejudices and divisive ideologies.

A pivotal moment in the discussion revolved around the question: Why consider restorative justice in cases stemming from polarisation and hate? In response, Soltveit and Attias painted a vision of society where rifts could be mended, and understanding fostered, even amid the darkest chasms of conflict. They envisioned a world where diverse and unique individuals come to a shared understanding of values and needs, transcending the barriers that have long separated them.

However, it wasn’t all rosy idealism. The duo tackled the challenges that practitioners face, especially when dealing with parties steeped in intense conflicts or the aftermath of violent crimes. They examined the delicate role of the mediator, emphasising the need for self-awareness and introspection. By highlighting the necessity for mediators to ensure that their own backgrounds and biases don’t cloud the restorative process, Soltveit and Attias offered a compelling argument for continuous learning and self-evaluation in the field.

One of the most crucial takeaways from the conversation was the treasure trove of recommendations for those in the trenches of restorative justice, dealing with polarisation and hate crime. From understanding the nuanced needs of each party to ensuring that every voice is acknowledged, from building bridges of empathy to ensuring that justice isn’t just served but also felt, the advice from Soltveit and Attias was both practical and profound.

In summation, the enlightening dialogue between Joakim Hope Soltveit and Miriam Attias offers a roadmap for those dedicated to the cause of restorative justice in these polarized times. Their insights serve as a reminder that, with understanding, empathy, and a steadfast commitment to core values, even the most profound societal rifts can be bridged. The hope is that practitioners and enthusiasts in the field will draw inspiration from this discussion, furthering the mission of a harmonized and just world.