Protecting  societies against abuse has traditionally been the purview of the state.  The need to protect the commons society against abuse will remain even after the commons transition.  Reputation and ratings systems may be capable of weeding out free-riders.  But how will they be restored to participation and genuine contribution?

In Michel Bauwens vision of the commons society, the state retains a role, as the Partner State. He writes:

Much of its functions will have been taken over by commons institutions, but since these institutions care primarily about their commons, and not the general common good, we will still need public authorities that are the guarantor of the system as a whole, and can regulate the various commons, and protect the commoners against possible abuses.

So in our scenario, the state does not disappear, but is transformed, though it may greatly diminish in scope, and with its remaining functions thoroughly democratized and based on citizen participation.

In this view, two features of the partner state stand out:

  1. Protecting an entire commons society against abuse
  2. Democratic participation in Partner state functions.

A variety of state models exist today. These states pursue a variety of approaches to protection and justice.

Do any existing approaches reflect the two features of the Partner State envisioned by Bauwens?  A program developed by the Navajo Nation illustrates how participatory justice aimed at restoration might function.  It is taken a lot of effort to keep the peacemaking process separate from the dominant state court system.

Extracted from:

Á?chíní BáNdazhnit’á (Diné Family Group Conferencing) Family Group Conferencing (FGC) originated in New Zealand. It was originally used to allow social work practice to work with and not against Maori values and culture.  In 1989, the New Zealand government made FGC a central part of practice and services in call cases concerning children, including dependency up through delinquency-type cases.

         Á?chíní báNdazhnit’á (Diné family group conferencing) through the Peacemaking Program is an extension of peacemaking in response to the requirements of the Álchíní Bi Beehaz’ áannii Act of 2011 calling upon the Navajo Nation “to seek out culturally appropriate methods for prevention, intervention and treatment of family disharmony” and “to facilitate family harmony using measures consistent with Navajo Nation statutes and Diné bi beehaz’áannii.”[1]  The Program will assist in family preservation and reunification when called upon by courts, agencies and families in the spirit and intent of the Act and on the basis of Diné bi beehaz’áannii.  The Program understands these requirements to mean that traditional principles and skills in achieving hózh??ó are to be explained and provided in such situations.

The Program will also arrange á?chíní báNdazhnit’á upon referrals from the prosecutor and schools in matters concerning CHINS, delinquency and disciplinary matters.

Extracted from:

On July 30, 2012, the Law & Order Committee of the Navajo Nation Council unanimously approved the Peacemaking Program’s plan of operations that sets forth the Program’s new traditional services, which are extensive.

The Peacemaking Program plan of operation clarifies the roles of the program and the courts and incorporates new enacted laws such as the Alchíní bi Beehaz’áanii and the Vulnerable Adult Protection Act.

The provisions of the new Plan of Operations reverse several decades in which peacemaking has fundamentally changed as a result of efforts to institutionalize peacemaking.  The Program will now strive to fully develop peacemaking in Diné communities.

The new plan reinforces the independence of the peacemakers, clarifies the goal of peacemaking and reiterates the need for the traditional components to be distinct and separate from court-style processes. It replaces the Peacemaking Guidelines established in 2004.

Extracted from:


Matters Accepted For Referral. Below are matters that the Program will accept for referral, arranged by referrer?type. The list is not exhaustive. The Program may accept additional matters as laws develop and change, or as the circumstances require.

  1. Division of Social Services

The Division of Social Services may refer the following matters to the Program for all Program services:

Family Disputes & Neglect. Pursuant to the Álchíní Bi Beehaz’áannii Act, the Division of Social Services may refer all matters involving family disputes or neglect where the child has not been removed and where a dependency court petition has not yet been filed. The goal is to ensure families re?assume primary responsibility, t’ááhó ájít’éigo, in regard to children’s safety and wellbeing to eliminate the need for Court intervention.

Parentage & Support Issues. Pursuant to the Navajo Nation Child Support Enforcement Act, the Division may request the assistance of the Program in resolving parentage and child support issues. Agreements reached that are filed with the Division are legally enforceable by the courts.

Group Life Value Engagements. The Program will accept participants required to attend regularly scheduled group life value engagements as a condition of family preservation or reunification.

  1. Office of the Prosecutor

Pursuant to the Álchíní Bi Beehaz’áannii Act, the Prosecutor may refer the following matters to the Program for all Program services:

CHINS. All matters involving family disputes or neglect where the child has not been removed and where a CHINS petition has not yet been filed.15 The goal is to address the needs of the child and to determine what is in the child’s best interest including family involvement.

Delinquency Diversion. The Prosecutor may further refer any matter involving juveniles for whom delinquency petitions are not yet filed. The referral would be part of a diversion program to be 10 9 N.N.C. § 1101(C)

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