More Than Peace grounds its work in the principles of restorative justice and conflict transformation. Restorative justice believes that peace cannot be built without justice and that, in a context like South Africa, justice must include restitution and restoration if healing and peace are to be realised. Restorative justice focuses attention on those or that which has been injured, marginalised, exploited or unjustly treated. It identifies how they have been wronged and invites those who may have directly or indirectly caused this wrong (permitted it, been a passive bystander, benefitted from the consequences of it, or now be in positions of public service and leadership) – to participate in acknowledging the wrong and restoring right.
Conflict transformation is a process of engaging with and transforming the relationships, interests, discourses and, if necessary, the very constitution of society that supports the underlying conditions which give rise to conflict and the continuation of violent conflict to ensure a sustainable peace. More Than Peace considers conflict transformation as a critical approach to achieving restorative justice.
Key components in a restorative justice approach to conflict transformation and peace-building are:
- Restoring relationships – The historical racial and socio-economic injustices in South Africa are rooted in gross imbalances of power, patronage and patriarchy. Third-party facilitation enables those in positions and possession of power (e.g. Municipalities, Councilors, City Officials) who often act as both referee and player, to give up the position of referee and allow those who are historically and currently dis-possessed and dis-empowered (e.g. local poor communities) to assume an equal status as a stakeholder within facilitated dialogue.
- Building trust through repeated opportunities to listen carefully and deeply so that trust is incrementally built which creates sufficient safety for creative thinking, openness to new ideas, and collaborative problem solving.
- Creating and establishing processes which develop the full engagement and participation of all stakeholders.
- Helping parties to work together to identify and address the underlying injustices which are the catalyst for community protests, rather than use violence to control and silence the voices of the oppressed.