Dossier 1325

What is a UN Resolution?

A resolution is a document of the United Nations (UN). These resolutions express the opinion or will of the United Nations on a topic. Resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council mostly concern international security and peace.

A resolution acknowledges a global problem, such as sexual violence in armed conflicts, and includes policy recommendations and methods by which all states can solve the problem. Roughly speaking, resolutions are drafted as follows: A group of countries comes together in the UN, addresses a problem, and gathers ideas on how to solve it. All countries with voting rights vote on the resulting draft proposal. Member states are responsible for implementation in their own countries. If the Security Council adopts the resolution, the decisions are not only considered recommendations but must also be implemented. Specific actions are then defined from the solutions presented in the document: Member states must earmark budgets, develop their own programmes, establish committees, launch projects, monitor the solution’s progress, and compile progress reports. However, resolutions are not set in stone, as other resolution texts can be added and new or largely unconsidered developments addressed.

Justice served the right way. What is restorative justice?

Justice is a key element in achieving security and peace.

How true justice can be established for all parties is a hot topic of debate. Looking at the example of the USA and the recent events there surrounding the victims of structural police brutality, George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the legal system of punishment and incarceration is coming under scrutiny like never before. The word “abolition” has been prominent in calls for a different legal system.

The current debate raises the issues of how our societies should react to crime, whether our approach to justice is the right one to pursue, and whether it is tackling the causes of crime. One approach is “restorative justice”. Instead of simply meting out punishment, different forms of restoration should be employed. Most of the time, this involves the perpetrators giving something back to society or to the community.

One example of an attempt at restorative justice is the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which was set up to deliver justice for victims of violence perpetrated by the apartheid regime. The Khulumani Support Group, in which Normarussia Bonase (Link) was active, supported the process: The Group worked with communities and victims, and tried to win reparations for them. According to Bonase however, the Commission was a massive failure in this respect. Although it granted amnesty to perpetrators, it was unable to pay adequate reparations to those affected by the regime‘s crimes. Normarussia sees a direct link between today’s high levels of violence, criminality, and disregard for human dignity in post-apartheid South Africa, and this failure of the TRC. Done properly however, the pursuit of restorative justice can lead to the transformation of a society after conflict, war, and violent confrontation.

The main steps towards restorative justice include:

  • Acknowledgement: The acceptance of an unjust situation is often a crucial element for those affected.

  • Inclusion: Victims of injustice play an active role; they are involved in the process and work on solutions together.

  • Responsibility: Perpetrators make a commitment to take responsibility for their crimes.

  • Restitution: Restorative justice requires that victims get something back. Perpetrators must do something to relieve the burden of victims. The form which this takes is decided by the needs and wishes of those affected and their communities.