The Working Group on Institutions will seek to establish links between practitioners, policy workers, academics/scholars and stakeholders who have an interest in exploring and implementing the principles of restorative justice and peacemaking in the field of institutions.

This Working Group will work in partnership with the Forum Working Groups on Environmental Restorative Justice and Restorative Cities where there are overlapping interests and concerns. The members initiating this Working Group are: Robert Mackay, Ivo Aertsen and Gema Varona.

More on institutions

The broad definition of institution comprises, but is not limited to, governmental and non-governmental organisations, including democratic assemblies and police and military bodies; charitable, religious and business organisations; sporting institutions and organisations; and, regulatory bodies, whether statutory or non-statutory.

The phenomenon of harm involving institutions has at least three facets:

  1. It raises questions of justice internally for victims and direct perpetrators in the institution.
  2. It raises the issue of institutional cultures and values that are deliberately or unconsciously abusive.
  3. It involves the nature of the conduct of institutions towards its external stakeholders and to the public at large.

It is acknowledged that the principles of restorative justice/peacemaking and public justice need to be articulated in such ways that they meet the needs of victims and the public. A primary reference point is the European Convention of Human Rights, founded on the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Attention will be given to:

  • Divers forms of harmful behaviours: abuse, violence, neglect or injustices;
  • In various types of institutional settings (including religious, work, sports, educational). This will allow for a comparative analysis and thus for a better understanding of the underlying, often not so visible, mechanisms within and around institutions;
  • Within patterns of authority relationships (resulting in abuse of power and injustices, at individual and structural level);
  • Paying attention to gender and age variables (and more in general, socio-demographic profiles of victims and other stakeholders), as well as intercultural issues.
  • Institutions considered as
    • starting point and locus of problems (hence it is precisely because of the institutional structures and culture that the abuse can take place and persist),
    • locus of redress (resources specifically available due to the institutional context),
    • locus of transformation (in becoming a restorative organisation and a re-thinking of authority);
  • Exploring the potential and adaptability of restorative justice (values and practices) to cope with the problem.
Hand and lamp

Aims of the Working Group

The aims are to:

  1. bring together a group of restorative practitioners, policy workers and academics/scholars and other stakeholders who will explore issues associated with the application of restorative justice concepts and practices in institutional settings;
  2. direct these explorations towards developing understandings of institutional settings, the phenomena of harmful behaviour, and the methods of responding to abuse;
  3. inventorise the potential applications of restorative concepts and practices in particular settings.

In practice

Within the next two years (2021-2023), this Working Group:

  • Produces a short document explaining the potential contribution of restorative justice in this domain;
  • Supports and encourages research on the potential application of restorative justice related to institutions;
  • Commits to regular virtual meetings and exchange of emails;
  • Can be consulted on this topic by EFRJ staff and members;
  • If possible, initiates project proposals and/or organizes events on the topic.

More questions?

Contact the EFRJ Secretariat: Laura Hein at and Silvia randazzo at

Members (2021-2023)

Abdul Rahim Razwana Begum (Singapore), Head Public Safety and Security Programme and Military Studies Minor, Singapore University of Social Sciences

Aertsen Ivo (Belgium), Emeritus professor, KU Leuven

Bertelli Francesca (Italy), Research Fellow, University of Brescia

Grimbert Tweed Sophie (France), Youth Labs Coordinator, French Ministry of Justice, regional hubs and French national education schools

Keenan Marie (Ireland), Associate Professor, University College Dublin

Mackay Robert (UK), Associate, Restorative Justice for All International Institute

Mazzucato Claudia (Italy), Associate Professor of Criminal Law, Università Cattolica del Sacro Cuore

McAlinden Anne-Marie (UK), Professor of Law and Criminal Justice, School of Law at Queen's University Belfast

Petrilla Caroline (US), Special projects, Youth Advocate Programs, Inc.

Petruzzi McHale Caroline (France), Lawyer/Avocate (NY, Paris) & Founder, Studio Vivace

Van Hoek Anneke (the Netherlands), Manager and Cofounder, Restorative Justice Nederland

Varona Gemma (Spain), Senior Researcher and Professor, Basque Institute of Criminology at the University of the Basque Country

Representative of the Board: Tim Chapman (UK)

Representative of the Secretariat: Laura Hein ( and Silvia Randazzo (


Photo credits:
Banner: "Building Blocks" by Melinda Seckington on
Other: "Idea!" by Cristian Carrara on