Maneuvering the Maze: Understanding Justice in Conflicts

November 14-16, 2013
Monterey Marriott, Monterey, CA

Exploring Peace & Justice

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The question “Can there be peace without justice?”is increasingly asked in the field of conflict studies where justice is popularly understood as deservedness, fairness, equality, equity or some similar value. 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, more often than not, is the first casualty when building peace, as development and security interventions take precedence.

This trend is particularly disturbing when one considers the fact that 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

However, 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? Interveners must seek the answers together with the conflict parties that have just maneuvered the maze.

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.

Conference Chair

Dr. Pushpa Iyer
Director, Center for Conflict Studies
Associate Professor, Monterey Institute for International Studies
Tel. 831-647-7104
Email: piyer@miis.edu or ccs@miis.edu