Just Times: Restorative Justice Responses in Dark Times

The 12th International Conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice (EFRJ) will focus on the potential of restorative justice at dark times, times when conflict, war and violence are either present or threaten most nations, regions and communities. Conflicts, war, and violence diminish peace, justice, rights and democracy, values we often take for granted. They can nourish fears and insecurities, while proliferating human (and environmental) harms and vulnerabilities. While restorative justice is widely used to respond to interpersonal conflicts and to challenge existing punitive justice systems, this conference wishes to open the discussion on the role of restorative justice in responding to larger scale war, conflict, and violence and their implications, while at the same time transforming those structural and entrenched societal dynamics that feed them. This is in line with one of the aims of the restorative justice movement to create a cultural change not only in justice systems but also in societies as a whole. 

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Citation Brecht on dark times for Tallinn conference

Does restorative justice have a role to play in “dark times”?

Starting from this question, this conference will give the floor to international experts in the fields of violence reduction, crisis management, war studies, diplomacy, peacebuilding and transitional justice to support the restorative justice community in finding synergies with other relevant areas of work dedicated to respond to different contexts and situations that characterise “dark times”. Among the plenary speakers, there will be academics, policymakers, service directors and young activists witnesses of violence, from different continents. Such an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together different sources of relevant knowledge in theory, practice and experience, will serve as inspiration for our restorative justice audience to further advance the field. 

The audience, including restorative justice professionals from all over the world, will have the possibility to propose parallel workshop sessions to further build on the plenary topics, or to propose other topics relevant for restorative justice. This will also be the space for discussions and reflections on the challenges of the restorative justice field within its more “classical” application in the criminal justice settings.

Photo view of Tallinn

What about restorative justice in Tallinn?

The choice of the location hosting our conference is not coincidental. Estonia is one of the three Baltic countries, together with Latvia and Lithuania, who experienced first the German, and then the Soviet occupation in the last century. Because of this, the ongoing war in Ukraine has brought up a lot of dormant traumas, feelings of injustice, and empathy for everyone affected by conflicts around the world. The experiences of the 20th century have  had a complex impact on their justice systems, first more punitive and then more innovative and forward-looking. Thanks to all the reforms carried out during its 30 years of re-independence, Estonia is highly ranked in terms of quality of life, education, freedom of speech and technology developments. 

Our local hosts, the Social Insurance Board in cooperation with the Estonian Ministry of Justice, are well known in our field for their innovative work in the field of restorative justice, especially in cases such as domestic violence and sexual child abuse, cases involving young people and refugees, and cases where practices had to be adapted to digital settings. They have used restorative practices in community conflicts sparked by unexpected events such as the global pandemic or public shootings. 

Thanks to local cooperation networks, the programme will also include some field trips to get to know Estonian realities relevant for restorative justice (or for your cultural interests).

Draft programme of the week

Tallinn, 28-31 May 2024

In order to plan your trip accordingly, please find below a draft agenda of the full week in Tallinn. The 3-day conference includes several plenary sessions and about 8 parallel workshop sessions, as well as social moments and local field trips. Other initiatives bringing us together in Tallinn are the Annual General Meeting of the EFRJ membership, the European RJ Award Ceremony and the pre-conference training.

Tue 28/5

Wed 29/5

Thu 30/5 

Fri 31/5

9-16 Pre-conference training

9-17 Conference

9-17 Conference



20-23 Social dinner

9-12 Conference


17-19 AGM + RJ award ceremony + reception

14-18 Parallel field trips

Call for proposals

Deadline: 17 December 2023

The EFRJ is a platform for bringing people together, and its conferences are the best occasion to show the variety of expertise that the restorative justice movement includes, involving practitioners, researchers, academics, legal professionals, social workers, artists, policy makers and activists. 

Propose your idea for one of the parallel workshops during the 12th international EFRJ conference (29-31 May 2024). 

The webform will be opened by half October 2023.


Registrations will open in January 2024. The call for abstracts will open in September 2023. 
More info on the conference programme will be published in the coming months on this webpage.

To organise your trip to Tallinn please visit www.visittallinn.ee, where you can find information about the city's public transport system, major attractions, events, activities, restaurants, and many other relevant topics in five different languages (English, Estonian, Russian, Finnish, and German).

Photo credits: VisitTallinn Media Bank
Banner: "Tallinn Old Town towers and town wall" by Kaupo Kalda
Photo: "Kohtuotsa viewing platform" by Kadi-Liis Koppel