This could be the first of a series of gathering for EFRJ members on EFRJ issues. “Time to Talk” is a moment of reflection dedicated to start a conversation about specific challenges that the organization is facing. Some may be more practical and easy to solve; others may be more related to the fundamentals of restorative justice. Like this one…

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Being coherent… in dark times

Over the years, the EFRJ Secretariat sometimes observed instances of polarization within the restorative justice community. Some struggled to embrace those perceived as the “difficult other”, leading to tensions in various aspects of our work. This happened, for example, with the choice of the venues for our events, with the launch of new publications on innovative themes, or with the set-up of new cooperation projects or networks. We noticed challenges where competition (for recognition, funding, innovative themes and/or representation) has created divisions among us.

Some of these tensions were solved thanks to our common knowledge of restorative practice principles, i.e. by listening and sharing with openness and respect and with a non-judgmental attitude, few times also through the confrontation with the other, until an agreement was reached. Other tensions were only the “tip of the iceberg”, showing only a small part of a much bigger situation we could not approach.

When tensions arise in dark times, or because of the dark times we live in, it may be too hard to be coherent with restorative principles. Our attention may focus on what is familiar to us, what interests us, what we consider important, and we may forget to acknowledge others’ experiences. Differences (in beliefs and experiences) may be perceived as threats and intimidations and we run the risk to adopt a “us vs. them” model and “black & white” lenses to look at the world. But how can we be coherent with the values and principles we represent, even in dark times? 

Time to Talk

To facilitate meaningful dialogue, we are organising our first “Time to Talk” event exclusively for EFRJ members. This event aims to provide a safe space where we can openly discuss specific issues the organisation is facing and seek advice from respected restorative justice experts from around the world. Through this dialogue, we hope to address specific situations and pressing issues.

The talk, moderated by EFRJ founder Ivo Aertsen (Belgium), will bring together experts within and beyond the EFRJ community (identified for their work on restorative justice in general and/or in cases of hate, polarization, political violence and terrorism). Among others, confirmed guests are: Dominic Barter (Brazil), John Braithwaite (Australia), Tim Chapman (Northern Ireland, UK), Lucy Jaffe (UK), Claudia Mazzucato (Italy).

This event will be an opportunity to learn from each other's experiences and to strengthen our commitment to the principles that bind our community together. It is also a reminder that in the face of adversity, our shared commitment to restorative justice can guide us towards understanding, empathy and resolution.

Questions that will be addressed may be:

  • Have you ever faced challenges in connecting with a “difficult other” or did you experience situations where the main values of restorative justice were challenged in your life? How did you manage this while upholding the values of restorative justice?
  • Why do you think the foundations of restorative justice sometimes falter, even within our own community, especially in dark times?
  • How can we rebuild faith in restorative principles within individuals and communities affected by violence and conflict?
  • What advice do you have for the specific case(s) presented by the EFRJ Secretariat today?


This event is reserved to EFRJ members only. Registration is mandatory.

Discussions will be confidential, following the principles of a restorative encounter. With the participants' consent, the event may be recorded for internal archival purposes only (i.e. recordings will not be shared with participants or beyond to ensure the privacy of our members).

We look forward to your participation and active engagement in this important conversation. Together, we can address these challenges, reaffirm our commitment to restorative justice, and foster a more inclusive and understanding community.

Banner: photo by Kathleen Tyler Conklin on