Shaping the Future of Restorative Justice: Insights from the Council of Europe Recommendation

In a captivating session led by Dr. Ian D. Marder, a renowned figure in the realm of criminology and restorative justice, the attendees were taken through a deep dive into the evolving international guidelines pertaining to restorative justice, with a keen focus on the Council of Europe Recommendation CM/Rec(2018)8 concerning restorative justice in criminal matters.

Dr. Marder, currently associated with Maynooth University Department of Law in Ireland, comes with an enviable pedigree, having undertaken significant work in drafting key restorative justice guidelines. His expertise was on full display as he meticulously detailed the significance of the Council of Europe Recommendation.

The time frame between 2018 and 2020 marked a pivotal period in the realm of restorative justice, with the introduction of various international legal instruments and guidelines. The Council of Europe Recommendation stood out amongst these, with its comprehensive approach to addressing restorative justice within the landscape of criminal matters. Marder, alongside co-presenter Aarne Kinnunen, illuminated the key features of this Recommendation, providing attendees with a concise understanding of its implications for both policy and practice.

One of the standout aspects of the presentation was the clear delineation of how the Council of Europe Recommendation harmonized with, yet distinguished itself from, other international guidelines. For instance, while the United Nations has its set of guidelines concerning restorative justice, the Council of Europe Recommendation carries its unique significance and nuances. Similarly, with impending developments in the international framework, especially from entities like the European Union, understanding the position and impact of this Recommendation becomes crucial.

Delving into the practicalities, Dr. Marder and Mr. Kinnunen discussed the implementation of the Recommendation. They emphasized that while the document sets forth a robust framework, its effectiveness hinges on its adoption and adaption at the domestic level. Here, the role of individual governments, criminal justice agencies, and other stakeholders becomes paramount. The Recommendation not only serves as a guideline but also as an influencer – nudging policymakers towards creating a more harmonized and effective approach to restorative justice in their respective jurisdictions.

Another highlight of the session was the involvement of Aarne Kinnunen, who was invited by the European Forum for Restorative Justice. His perspectives enriched the discourse, offering a broader viewpoint on the international dynamics of restorative justice and how various entities, including the European Union, might approach its evolution.

In conclusion, the presentation by Dr. Ian Marder and Aarne Kinnunen was not just an academic discourse on a document. It was a clarion call to stakeholders globally to recognize the importance of restorative justice in the landscape of criminal matters and to leverage the guidelines set by the Council of Europe Recommendation to create a more equitable, effective, and harmonized justice system. Attendees left with a renewed understanding of the global trajectory of restorative justice and the tools at their disposal to effect meaningful change.