The project analyzes the use of mediation and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms for cases of honor-based violence in the United Kindgdom and Norway and aims at answering the following questions: What are the rights and principles of Western (criminal) justice systems that are threatened by a logic of honor and by the use of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in such cases? How do these programs work? Do they infringe the mentioned rights and principles?

So-called “hon­or-based vi­ol­ence” and forced mar­riages are seem­ingly on the in­crease in European coun­tries. Vic­tims tend to come from cer­tain im­mig­rant com­munit­ies, some are young wo­men from second or third gen­er­a­tion mi­grants strug­gling between the cul­ture of their fam­ily and that of the host so­ci­ety. Vic­tims are re­luct­ant to re­sort to po­lice and the justice sys­tem as a con­sequence of fam­ily ties and com­munity pres­sure and are un­will­ing or un­able to in­voke out­side sup­port. They fall either back on tra­di­tion­al me­di­ation and dis­pute res­ol­u­tion pro­ced­ures op­er­a­tion­al in some im­mig­rant com­munit­ies or are ex­posed to the risks of un­shiel­ded con­front­a­tion. Na­tion­al and in­ter­na­tion­al bod­ies and or­gan­iz­a­tions have called for pro­tect­ing vic­tims from tra­di­tion­al dis­pute res­ol­u­tion pro­ced­ures as these are al­leged to pre­vent ac­cess to justice and ef­fect­ive re­lief from vic­tim­iz­ing pres­sure, co­er­cion and the threat of vi­ol­ence and re­flect power im­bal­ance, gender in­equal­ity and a col­lect­ive con­science which con­flicts with val­ues of so­ci­et­ies which are based on in­di­vidu­al autonomy and in­di­vidu­al­iz­a­tion. Two case stud­ies will serve to elab­or­ate and test hy­po­theses on how to ap­proach best the prob­lems de­scribed above. The first case study ad­dresses Nor­way. The Nor­we­gi­an res­tor­at­ive justice agency (Kon­f­liktrå­det) to­geth­er with oth­er Scand­inavi­an coun­tries, has star­ted em­ploy­ing res­tor­at­ive justice (mainly in the form of cross-cul­tur­al trans­form­at­ive me­di­ation) to bring to­geth­er vic­tims and their fam­il­ies and to dis­cuss the rights, val­ues, and tra­di­tions at stake. The second case study deals with the situ­ation in the United King­dom. Here, we do not find pro­grams offered (and backed up) by the state, but com­munit­ies which or­gan­ize them­selves through NGOs, in­form­al tribunals, re­li­gious and cul­tur­al lead­ers, or in­form­al me­di­at­ors and ar­bit­rat­ors. On the basis of the case stud­ies, the pro­ject seeks an­swers to the ques­tion of which norm­at­ive con­flicts in terms of sub­stance and pro­ced­ure emerge in the con­front­a­tion between West­ern ap­proaches and tra­di­tion­al dis­pute pro­ceed­ings based on col­lect­ive val­ues (hon­or). Re­search will elab­or­ate on how and to what ef­fects al­tern­at­ive pro­grams work and what in­ter­ac­tions with form­al justice sys­tems oc­cur.

Pre­lim­in­ary res­ults show rel­ev­ant dif­fer­ences in the func­tion­ing of form­al and in­form­al pro­grams and a dif­fer­ent way of in­ter­act­ing with the crim­in­al justice sys­tem. At­ten­tion was paid to the risk as­sess­ment phase and the train­ing of prac­ti­tion­ers (es­pe­cially me­di­at­ors). The pro­tec­tion of vic­tims' rights is at the cen­ter of both form­al and in­form­al pro­grams, however a cer­tain de­gree of com­prom­ise is ne­ces­sar­ily in­volved.