This discussion panel is part of the Festival of Democracy and will be hosted by AAU's Carollann Braum - Dean, John H. Carey II School of Law and William Cook - Distinguished Teaching Professor of History, SUNY Geneseo and founder of the Bill Cook Foundation.

The panel will focus on what happens next? They will take a look at cases of victims seeking justice after human rights violations. The right to a trial and related civil rights are key to democracy, but does this necessarily always mean a judicial proceeding? As alternative dispute mechanisms are growing in use, should a non-judicial agreement be considered more for human rights violations as well? The panel will present litigation vs. alternative methods of justice, such as truth commissions, and discuss which of the options is better for preventing future human rights violations, providing remedies for victims, and healing the community.

  • When: October 10th, 2018 from 2:30–4:30 PM
  • Where: AAU (Letenská 5, Prague) Room TBD. 
  • How to get there: The closest tram and metro stop is Malostranská – trams 22, 20, 18, 12, 2, 23,15, or metro line A

This event is part of the Festival of Democracy, the associated event of the Forum 2000 Conference. #Fedem

 

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REPORT FROM THE EVENT

Festival of Democracy at AAU: Restorative Justice after Humanitarian Crises?

How can justice be served after an atrocity or national crisis? How can divided societies be reconciled? What is the priority: legal process or justice? What are the pros and cons of court trials and alternative methods in dispute settlement? To take a crack at these questions the Anglo-American University’s School of International Relations and Diplomacy invited Dr. William Cook and Dr. Carollann Braum to discuss.

The key to long-term prevention of human rights violations, Cook thinks, is to promote greater access to education and empathetic learning reinforced by strong family values. Speaking from a perspective of a history professor who is concerned with the incessant problems of the developing world, Cook thinks a strong cultivation of values is necessary to rebuild civil society, and prevent future atrocities, he says, citing his first-hand experience. Education should be seen
as more than just a tool, but an investment in peace, and a long-term restorative solution to instability rather than an end itself. As the founder of the Bill Cook foundation, which aims to provide children in developing countries access to education, he has worked in conflict devastated countries like South-Sudan, attempting to aide in rebuilding education institutions.

Braum’s perspective as a specialist in human rights law emphasized the difference between ‘traditional’ system of legal process, and an inclusive, restorative justice approach. Traditional justice tends to be punishment-oriented – ineffective (takes ages), and difficult to access for a developing, brutalized community. Instead, community building offers a different path: the re- integration of people into society, and one that makes amends with itself for past atrocities. Braum supposes an important component towards a just resolution could be the establishment of a “truth commission” for a troubled society, tasked with resolution of injustice, building bridges, and “healing” old wounds. The effectiveness of such a commission would need to be rooted in impartiality and credibility; it must relay truth, and offer reconciliation to the offended. It must be a body that gives access to justice where there previously was little to none.

Restorative justice and truth commissions are about re-building communities, through dialogue and reconciliation. For victims and perpetrators to go before an objective court in the eyes of their neighbors in order to begin a healing process and grasp closure. Surely, a time consuming and expensive project, but nonetheless worthwhile. Cook reminds us that how a society remembers but also forgets, mistakes and atrocities can inform a future system. In Germany, attempts at creating a broader understanding of Nazi barbarism has lead to a more historically and culturally advanced civil society. An accomplishment that can be replicated by any community which seeks unity of national or sub-national narratives.
Is there an ‘end’ to forgiveness over time? Can communities be wise enough to see justice through or do some attempt to hide away from history? There are more questions than answers when it comes to a long-term solution for a crisis-stricken community. But there’s little doubt among the panelists that cultivation of a strong civil society through education and inclusive attempts at reconciliation can be major drivers of a hopeful, lasting peace.

By Benjamin M. Goings

Carollann Braum – Dean, John H. Carey II School of Law, AAU. Before moving to Prague, Dr. Braum ran an immigration and human rights law practice in Colorado and has trial experience in federal civil rights law.

William Cook – Distinguished Teaching Professor of History, SUNY Geneseo, founder of the Bill Cook Foundation, which seeks to help some of the world’s poorest children to get the best education possible.

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