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The Center's History

Over the years, more than 7,000 people have participated in the Center’s training seminars offered through its International Restorative Justice Dialogue Institute in Minnesota and other locations. It has provided training, technical assistance, and lectures throughout the United States and Canada, as well as in Belgium, China, Colombia, Denmark, England, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Israel/Palestine, Italy, Hong Kong, Japan, Kenya, Mexico, Norway, Northern Ireland, Romania, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Trinidad, and the Ukraine. In the coming months, the Center will be providing lecturing or training in Argentina and South Africa. Each month, there are an average of 14,000 “hits” on the Center’s website that represents the oldest and most comprehensive international web-site in support of restorative dialogue practice, research, and training.

The Center initiated a Community Peacemaking Project to promote sustained dialogue among diverse communities in response to hate crimes, intolerance, and political violence. This involved partnerships with Native Americans in the Pine Ridge/Rapid City area of South Dakota, the Arab-Jewish Peace Alliance in Albuquerque, Somali-Muslim leaders in Minneapolis, a Gay-Lesbian coalition in Colorado, and Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland, through the Seeds of Hope project.

Over the past several years, the Center has partnered with the Seeds of Hope organization in Northern Ireland, and a number of local victim trauma centers and peace groups, to support efforts to promote restorative dialogue among former combatants and victims involved in the conflict between Catholics and Protestants. This has involved both sponsoring delegations of cross-community individuals to participate in advanced training seminars in Minnesota and trips by Center staff to Northern Ireland to support local efforts and provide additional training in restorative dialogue. In collaboration with the Center for Peace-building in Ireland, Dr. Umbreit  taught  his “Peacemaking and Spirituality: A Journey Toward Strength and Healing” course in Northern Ireland.

The Center initiated the Cross-National Arab-Jewish Dialogue Project in collaboration with the International Centre for Healing and the Law. The project involved providing support and assistance to the network of Arab-Jewish dialogue groups in the United States and building collaborative relationships with Israelis and Palestinians involved in similar work in the mid-east.

New initiatives in Northern Ireland, the Mid-east, West Africa (Liberia’s Truth and Reconciliation commission) and among American Palestinians and Jews, as well as the larger Muslim community in the U.S., are underway. The Center recently partnered with the Ukrainian Center for Common Ground and the European Center for Common Ground in providing technical assistance and evaluation services to assess the impact of Ukraine’s first restorative justice initiative of developing victim offender mediation programs in six regions of this former Soviet Republic. In addition, the Center has been asked by the Palestinian Center for Conflict Resolution and Reconciliation in Palestine (the occupied territories) to collaborate on an effort to bring restorative justice into Palestinian society, in a culturally appropriate manner. Finally, the Center is collaborating with a colleague at the University of Texas in further assessing the impact of victim offender dialogue in crimes of severe violence, primarily homicide.