Maneuvering the Maze:
Understanding Justice in Conflicts
Exploring Peace & Justice
The question “Can there be peace without justice?” is increasingly asked in the field of conflict studies. For many, the question is rhetorical with the answer being an obvious “no,” especially when one considers the many societies today that struggle for a “just peace” and where justice is the first casualty when building peace, as development and security interventions take precedence. The lack of justice or a perceived sense of injustice is often at the root of many conflicts. Injustice, both real and perceived, together with resulting attitudes and emotions such as anger, fear, and hatred is what exacerbates conflicts and makes them intractable. It therefore seems natural to conclude that ensuring justice is the way to resolve conflicts and bring “positive peace” - peace that is more than the absence of war and includes concepts of “just,” “sustainable” or “real” peace.
Maneuvering the Justice Maze
As parties in conflict differ in their values, beliefs, perceptions, methods and goals, their road to justice is unpaved, bumpy and winding with many different paths that may or may not lead to a “just” space, turning both the goal and the approach to justice into a maze. Conflict parties maneuvering the complex maze provide clues to interveners in answering questions such as: What are the different ideas of justice that conflict parties hold? How does one seek justice? How does one provide for justice? And how does one know when one has emerged from the maze? What does justice look like in various conflict contexts? This conference seeks to explore the many notions of justice, the importance and role of justice in conflict and peace, the various approaches to justice, and the key players involved in providing, seeking and receiving justice.
Dianne Barker Harrold has practiced law for 26 years, mostly in Indian Country in Oklahoma. She served as tribal judge for thirteen Indian tribes in Oklahoma and as the first female Native American District Attorney in the state of Oklahoma. She is currently the attorney for the Tribal Council of the Cherokee Nation and the Resource Delivery Coordinator for Unified Solutions Tribal Community Development Group, Inc. Harrold is one of the founders of Oklahoma’s Help-In-Crisis domestic violence shelter. She is currently the Native American/Victim Representative for the State Victims of Crime Assistance (VOCA) Board for Oklahoma. An enrolled member of the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma, Harrold is also an independent consultant and frequently speaks around the country, training tribal prosecutors and law enforcement, victims’ advocates, child welfare workers, and service providers in the areas of child abuse, victim advocacy, domestic violence, sexual assault, and other related topics. In April of this year, United States Attorney General Eric Holder presented Harrold with the 2013 National Crime Victim Service Award for her long-term work with crime victims.
The Sankofa, Adinkra art from Ghana, is a bird with its head turned backwards taking an egg off its back. The symbol represents looking back into the past, taking the best from it and moving forward into the future. It is our hope that in the search for justice, all conflict parties will do the same as the Sankofa bird: deal with the past – history, memory, truth and trauma – and walk together into the future.