II International Congress on Mediation and Restorative Justice location:Lisbon Portugal date:20-22 October 2011
Conferencing is a restorative justice practice which has started developing quite consistently since the 1990s. The first large scale programme to have been set up was in New Zealand and soon thereafter also in Australia. To this day this practice has in majority been developing in Anglophone countries such as the two mentioned above and in the USA, Canada or the UK and in particular with consistently promising results for juvenile justice in Northern Ireland. Some continental European, Latin American and African countries are also slowly starting to introduce this alternative to traditional criminal justice, especially in the case of juvenile justice, with some equally promising results.
As the coordinator of a two year research project on conferencing for the European Forum for Restorative Justice I will present very up-to-date information about the state of conferencing in the world. Indeed as part of the project we developed a large survey on both conferencing and mediation which results were analysed in detail. We also examined the existing literature and various theories and debates surrounding this restorative justice model. Finally we have also conducted country studies, focusing on most of the countries relevant to conferencing internationally and have visited and interviewed relevant stakeholders in a number of European countries. The paper will discuss some of the major conclusions that have come out of this research project and offer some insights as to how conferencing could be developed further in Europe and beyond.