Since the nineties, within Belgian criminal policy practices of mediation have known a remarkable de-
velopment. The political context was the one of a state in a gradual process of reform from an ‘unitarist’
to a federal model. This article goes back in history in an attempt to explore the contextual impact on
this sudden Belgian interest for a consensual approach of criminal cases. Part of this same theme also
reflects in the dynamics in the motives behind ‘Panopticon’, a review lanced in 1980 explicitly as a medi-
ating forum between issues of formal regulation on the one side and people’s individual experience and
capacity on the other, the tension between criminology and justice.
Reconstructing, step by step, throws light on the complexity of this development, wherein everything
seems to influence everything and causes and consequences are often hard to distinguish. However, as
far as the impact of the ‘change-agents’ is concerned, the outcome is not just sobering but stimulating
at the same time. It calls for a proper positioning of ‘mediation’, in a context tending to reduce human
dignity to mediocracy and ‘justice’ to ‘restoration’ according to ‘common sense’. Looking at the current
implementation of the sixth episode in Belgian state reform, the author suggests a broad and ‘politi-
cal’ approach of mediation, as a critical meeting place, not just for victims and offenders, but for the
dynamic reasonings behind the concepts of ‘community’, ‘justice’ and ‘democracy’ alike.