Restorative justice is a way of doing justice in which the focus is on restoring the damage caused by a crime. This involves not only restoring material and immaterial damage, but also restoring relational and moral damage. This is best achieved through processes that enable all stakeholders to engage in a dialogue and reach agreements on restoration. This could include victim-offender-mediation as well as conference models that also involve the community.
In his inaugural address, Jacques Claessen sets out why he sees restorative justice – unlike criminal justice – as an emancipated and mature approach to crime, both in terms of distributive and procedural justice. Drawing on the Golden Rule (‘Treat another as you would like to be treated yourself’) and the accompanying view of mankind and the world, he shows that the retribution of evil with evil that is central to criminal law, should be replaced by the retribution of evil with good as much as possible. In this context, he sees an important role for restorative justice.