John presented a public lecture at Oxford University in 2015 on forgiveness in restorative justice that was just published in the Oxford Journal of Law and Religion[1]Redeeming the ‘F’ word in Restorative Justice’.

The paper argues that genuine forgiveness usually does not happen in restorative justice. It should never be demanded. The objective is to create the kind of space for participants’ empathic and spiritual selves that welcomes forgiveness. The evidence is persuasive that forgiveness enhances human well-being. Eliza Ahmed’s[2] evidence finds that forgiveness reduces bullying. Forgiving people also live longer, enjoy happier marriages and have fewer hours of sleeplessness at night. 

In important ways, forgiveness is a more potent ideal in the Muslim than the Christian tradition. Muslims tend to see international human rights law as a creation of countries whose law was grounded in Christendom. One way to make the global rights regime more universal and legitimate would be a concession to a Muslim theology of forgiveness. This could mean a right of victims to forgive that can trump state policies of proportionate punishment. All these elements can be part of a social movement strategy of the longue durée to forge a forgiving world in which people live longer and better. The justice system is both part of the historical problem and part of this solution that can prevail in the longue durée. 


[1]J. Braithwaite (2016) ‘Redeeming the ‘F’ word in Restorative JusticeOxford Journal of Law and Religion 5(1), 79-93.
[2]E. Ahmed, N.Harris, J.Braithwaite and V.Braithwaite (2001) Shame Management Through Reintegration Cambridge University Press