Fania Davis held a powerful keynote speech at the 10th international conference of the European Forum for Restorative Justice last Summer in Tirana. In her plenary Fania traced her personal journey beginning with a childhood of racial terror and segregation in the southern United States and the murder of two close childhood friends in the 1963 Sunday School bombing. These early experiences moved Fania as well as her sister, the iconic Angela Davis, to become social justice activists. Fania later became a human rights trial attorney for almost three decades before she discovered restorative justice.
In her speech, she emphasizes the need to adopt a more expansive view of Restorative Justice besides its application to the 'micro'-dimension of interpersonal conflict. If we truly want to restore personal harm as a result of crime, we must also transform the socio-historic structures such as racism, gender and economic inequity, that perpetuate such harms.
Otherwise, she said, "we are like gardeneres devoted to healing the plants, while ignoring the toxicity of the soil". In other words: we need to transform the larger ecosystems in which we work.
I think we should look at environmental harm through a similar macro-lense. Individual cases of environmental harm occur within the context of an antropocentric economic and legal system in which Nature is seen as an object, a collection of resources, subject to human dominion - which has led to large scale damage and destruction of ecosystems and a frightening decline of wildlife populations. However, new voices are advocating to rethink - and rebuild - our relationship with the natural world, among others by recognizing the Rights of Nature. I think Restorative Justice, because of its openness to a wide ranges of values, might be a great avenue to explore such ecocentric worldviews and advance the recognition of Nature as a victim in its own right. Ideally, Restorative Justice could offer space for Rights of Nature-seeds to grow, and contribute to the transformation of the larger ecosystems. You can read more about this in my article Advancing Rights of Nature through Restorative Justice.
Photo credit: European Forum for Restorative Justice
Fri, 02 November