VICTIMS IN GENERAL – UNITED NATION

29 November 1985 A/RES/40/34

‘The Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power consists of two parts: Part A, on “Victims of Crime”, is subdivided into sections concerning “Access to justice and fair treatment”, “Restitution”, “Compensation”, and “Assistance”; and Part B, on “Victims of abuse of power”’. Para 4 of the Preamble calls upon member states ‘to take the necessary steps’ in order, among others, to endeavour: (…) (e) To promote disclosure of relevant information to expose official and corporate conduct to public scrutiny, and other ways of increasing responsiveness to public concerns; (f)  To promote the observance of codes of conduct and ethical norms, in particular international standards, by public servants, including law enforcement, correctional, medical, social service and military personnel, as well as the staff of economic enterprises’. Para 10. of the Declarations provides: ‘In cases of substantial harm to the environment, restitution, if ordered, should include, as far as possible, restoration of the environment, reconstruction of the infrastructure, replacement of community facilities and reimbursement of the expenses of relocation, whenever such harm results in the dislocation of a community’.

-United Nations, Office for Drug Control and Crime Prevention, Handbook on Justice for Victims. On the use and application of the Declaration of Basic Principles of Justice for Victims of Crime and Abuse of Power, New York, 1999

‘The Handbook outlines the basic steps in developing comprehensive assistance services for victims of crime. (…) This Handbook has been drafted recognizing that differences arise when its principles are applied in the context of different legal systems, social support structures and life situations. (…) The Handbook is not meant to be prescriptive but to serve as a set of examples for jurisdictions to examine and test’  [Source: www.unodc.org].

-United Nations, Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), UN Economic and Social Council Resolution 2002/12: Basic Principles on the Use of Restorative Justice Programmes in Criminal Matters, 24 July 2002, E/RES/2002/12

In setting the basic principles, the ECOSOC Resolution 2002/12 recognizes, among others, that restorative justice: a) ‘promotes social harmony through the healing of victims, offenders and communities’; b) ‘enables those affected by crime to share openly their feelings and experiences, and aims at addressing their needs’; c) ‘provides an opportunity for victims to obtain reparation, feel safer and seek closure’; d) ‘allows offenders to gain insight into the causes and effects of their behaviour and to take responsibility in a meaningful way’.

-United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), Handbook on Restorative Justice programmes, New York, 2006

The Handbook is a practical tool developed by UNODC to support countries in the implementation of the ECOSOC Resolution 2002/12 concerning the basic principles on restorative justice in criminal matters. The handbook ‘offers, in a quick reference format, an overview of key considerations in the implementation of participatory responses to crime based on a restorative justice approach. (…) It was prepared for the use of criminal justice officials, non-governmental organizations and community groups who are working together to improve current responses to crime and conflict in their community’ [Source: Handbook on RJ programmes].