Healing after Mass Atrocity

The Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, with Professor Ingrid Palmary has just a published in a new article in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal

Hamber, Brandon and Palmary, Ingrid (2021). A Dance of Shadows and Fires: Conceptual and Practical Challenges of Intergenerational Healing after Mass Atrocity. Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, 15 (3), 100-120 [Download].

Abstract

The legacy of mass atrocity – including colonialism, slavery or specific manifestations such as apartheid – continue long after their demise. Applying a temporal inter-generational lens adds complications. We argue that mass atrocity creates for subsequent generations a deep psychological rupture akin to witnessing past atrocities. This creates a moral liability in the present. Healing is a process dependent on the authenticity (evident in discourse and action) with which we address contemporary problems. A further overriding task is to open social and political space for divergent voices. Acknowledgement of mass atrocity requires more than one-off events or institutional responses (the grand apology, the truth commission). Rather acknowledgement has to become a lived social, cultural and political reality. Without this acknowledgement, healing, either collectively or individually, is stymied. Healing after mass atrocity is as much about political action (addressing inequalities and racism) as an act of re-imaging created through constant and contested re-writing. 

 [Download]

Colombian Truth Commission Visit

On Human Rights Day (Friday 10 December 2021), the Colombian Truth Commission visited the Magee campus to launch a thought-provoking new Con-textualising Memory exhibition, which will be on display in the Magee campus until 27 January 2022.

This exhibition examines the nature of memory and testimony in the context of the Colombia and Northern Ireland Peace Processes, and features handcrafted dolls made by survivors of human rights violations in Colombia, with two of the doll-makers, Amparo Restrepo and Marina Echeverría, members of the Colombian exiled community in the UK, participating in the launch.

The exhibition is the latest installment in the evolving Conflict Textiles Collection which uses textiles to document and narrate conflict in Northern Ireland and around the world.

The textile dolls on display in the exhibition were created through a series of workshops hosted in partnership with Conflict TextilesColombian Truth Commission in the UK/Ireland and Ulster University’s Transitional Justice Institute.

Pictured at the launch of the Con-textualising Memory exhibit at the Magee Campus Library at Ulster University on International Human Rights Day were: (L-R) Roberta Bacic, Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Lina Malagón, Peter Drury of the Colombian Truth Commission, Amparo Restrepo and Marina Echeverría.

Northern Ireland Visit

Along with the unveiling of the exhibition, Commissioner Dr Carlos M Beristain of the Truth Commission and Peter Drury Representative of The Colombian Truth Commission in the UK met with Ulster University academics, political representatives, and prominent figures in the Northern Ireland peace process. Dr Beristain attended these meetings virtually since last minute changes in the COVID-19 travel regulations meant that he had to cancel plans to travel to Northern Ireland. This is nothing new, over the COVID epidemic the Truth Commission has had to adopt a variety of strategies to reach out to the victims and survivors of Colombia’s conflict.

Speaking prior to the visit, Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University, noted:

“The visit of The Colombian Truth Commission to the City comes at a critical time. Colombia is finalising its Truth Commission Report. Northern Ireland is grappling right now with exactly what to put in place to reckon with the past. There is a lot we can share from our different experiences. This is an important opportunity for us to listen, learn, and act to ensure both Northern Ireland and Colombia effectively deal with the past and create sustainable peace.”

Experiences of Living in Exile:

The exhibition showcases the textiles made by Colombian women who participated in The Truth Commission process in the UK.

Peter Drury of The Colombian Truth Commission said:

“The exercise of producing the arpillera dolls is one of many carried out during the process of the Colombian Truth Commission by victims and survivors of human rights violations and serious breaches of International Humanitarian Law as a means to be able to reveal hidden truths about their experiences. These truths have often been concealed for many years by trauma, anger and fear. The arpillera doll-making exercise has sought to allow the makers of the dolls to project their life experiences into the dolls they have fashioned with thread and needle.”

Speaking about the Con-textualising Memory exhibit, curator, Roberta Bacic of Conflict Textiles said:

Through textile language participants engaged in a process of touching, exploring, stitching, and sharing their experience of living in exile due to the Colombian conflict.  Doing it against the odds, (because we were creating a communal experience via Zoom), we managed closeness, trust building and to make a piece of tangible art that captures the power of expressing what is not possible to say in words.”

Memory & Truth Seminar:

Following the exhibition launch, Dr Carlos M Beristain of The Colombian Truth Commission joined academics in an online seminar, Sharing experiences of memory (Recognition) and truth in post-conflict times: Colombia and Northern Ireland.

During the seminar, the truth and memory of victims’ rights within the context of the Northern Ireland and Colombia’s peace processes were discussed.

Exhibition details:

The exhibition launch marks International Human Rights Day and coincided with the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival 2021 (3 – 10 December 2021).

The exhibition will be on display from 10 December 2021 to 27 January 2022, on the first floor of the library, Block MM (beside Scullery Ciúin).

Advocacy Services Report

Today the Commission for Victims and Survivors of Northern Ireland (CVSNI) and Ulster University (INCORE & TJI) launched the Advocacy Services Report focusing on advocacy and dealing with the past. The report was authored by Dr Maire Braniff, Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Catherine O’Rourke, Dr Philip McCready and Dr John Bell.

Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair, speaking at the launch

The Report found that while the needs of victims and survivors are not homogenous there are core principles that underpin effective service provision. Essentially they should be victim-led, build trust, not create dependency, be compassionate and empathetic and value the lived experience and perspective of the individual. The groups offering advocacy were led by such principles. Further provision for dealing with the past should draw on and learn from the scale, diversity and experience of advocacy practice to date.

Equally, however, our research found that this was challenging work. There was unanimity amongst all service users and service providers that the biggest challenge was the systemic delay and the slow nature of legacy investigation and information recovery. The biggest scope for improvement in advocacy services was the accessibility of information and more streamlined and quicker responses from statutory agencies.

Policing: 20 Years On

The John and Pat Hume Foundation held an important discussion ‘20 years on – Reflections on the New Beginning to Policing’ on the Magee Campus of Ulster University, 9 November 2021. The Chair introduced and hosted the discussion for Ulster University as a Hume Foundation partners. The valuable reflections of Denis Bradley, Peter Smith QC, Judith Gillespie and Brian Dougherty are available on the John and Pat Hume Foundation YouTube Channel.

Fire in the Belly: Online

The 3rd Youth, Peace & Security Seminar “Fire in the Belly: Lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change” was held on 1 October 2021. The full recording of the event is now available online.

The panel included:

  • Monica McWilliams: Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies at the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and a former Chairperson of Interpeace.
  • Hajer Sharief: A Libyan peace and human rights activist. She co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organization in Libya.
  • Ilwad Elman: A young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process. She co-founded the Elman Peace Centre and is an Advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation.
  • Emma Johnston: A youth worker in NI, working with Youth Action Northern Ireland. She is a representative on Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, the UK Joint Committee for women and the Irish NAP For Women Peace and Security.

The panel discussion is introduced by Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace.

The seminar series is a partnership between Ulster University (INCORE, the Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue & TJI), The John and Pat Hume Foundation, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in PeaceInternational Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace.  

Fire in the Belly

Seminar featuring voices from Northern Ireland, Libya and Somalia will honour Pat Hume’s legacy  

Pat Hume who was recently described by Monica Mc Williams ‘as the woman who never gave up’ is the inspiration behind Fire in the Belly, the third event planned in the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series.  

On Friday 1 October 2021, Monica Mc Williams who is Emeritus Professor at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and former Chairperson of Interpeace, will chair Fire in the Belly, featuring speakers from Libya, Somalia and Northern Ireland.   

Tim Attwood, Secretary of the John & Pat Hume Foundation, said:   

“It is important to acknowledge and highlight the positive work of young women and men working on peace at home and globally. The late Pat Hume had to scale so many obstacles working for peaceful change during times of great personal and political risk. She was described as ‘the woman who never gave up’. We must inspire a new leadership of young people in peacebuilding who will also never give up.”  

About Fire in the Belly:   

Fire in the Belly will feature lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change. It takes place online on Friday 1 October 2021 at 3:30pm and is free of charge and everyone with an interest is welcome to join.   

Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University, said  

“A core focus of the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in peace is to support the next generation of peacebuilders. I can think of no better way to do this than exchange practical lessons between young women peacebuilders form around the globe. They have much to share and teach all of us.”  

Speakers  

  • Monica McWilliams is Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies at the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and a former Chairperson of Interpeace. She will Chair the session.
  • Hajer Sharief is a Libyan peace and human rights activist. She co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organization in Libya.
  • Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process. She co-founded the Elman Peace Centre and is an Advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation.
  • Emma Johnston is a youth worker in NI, working with Youth Action Northern Ireland. She is a representative on Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, the UK Joint Committee for women and the Irish NAP For Women Peace and Security.

About the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series:  

This is the third seminar in the new Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series explores the positive contribution of youth to peace. Every 6-8 weeks, a free online platform is created for young leaders to share their experience from around the world.   

The seminar series is a partnership between Ulster University (INCORE & TJI), The John and Pat Hume Foundation, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in PeaceInternational Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace.  

The seminar series sees young people from Northern Ireland enter conversation with leading international figures in youth work and peace building. In March 2020, Graeme Simpson, Lead Author for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by UNSCR 2250 and Director of Interpeace USA launched the Seminar series with a talk entitled The Missing Peace. While in May 2020, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth took part in two sessions with young people in Northern Ireland.   

  • Ahead of the event on Friday, Hajer Sharief, the Libyan peace and human rights activist, said:  

“Peace should be treated as a “public good” of which everyone has the right to build, shape and make. Therefore, the inclusion of women and youth in peace processes is not a matter of ticking a box, it’s a matter of providing people with the opportunity to practice their right to shape their own lives and societies”.  

  • Speaking about the importance of this series, Graeme Simpson, the Principal Representative (NY) & Senior Peacebuilding Adviser at Interpeace, said:   

“The global Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda has recognized that instead of treating young people as a threat, it is imperative to invest in the resilience, resourcefulness, and innovation of young peacebuilders. Interpeace believes that little is more important in amplifying the voices of young peacebuilders themselves, than the powerful leadership of young women, connecting with each other across the globe.”  

“The Youth, Peace and Security Seminar Series frames critical conversations which enable global youth leaders to pool our resources and work collectively with young women to breathe positive energy into their lives.  Young women need role models; women who they can up look to. I am looking forward to coming together to ignite that important fire in the belly.”  

“Fire in the Belly is an excellent opportunity for a wider audience to understand the influential role that women play within peace building. The Youth, Peace and Security Series complements the IFI’s ethos and also enhances our partnerships with other organisations. Engaging young people to offer them the best opportunities in life so they can develop, grow and give back to their own communities is a core focus of our work.”

Fire in the Belly is open to everyone with an interest and free to join.   

It takes place Friday 1 October 2021 at 3:30pm – 5pm. For further information and to be directed to Eventbrite for booking, visit:   

https://www.ulster.ac.uk/transitional-justice-institute/events/youth,-peace-and-security-leadership-series2

Transitional Justice: The ‘Disappeared’

On 31 August 2021, The Chair moderated a seminar entitled “Transitional Justice and the ‘Disappeared’ of Northern Ireland”. The seminar explores local and international issues of dealing with enforced disappearances. Speakers at the Seminar included:

  • Dr Lauren Dempster, Lecturer in the School of Law at Queens University Belfast, who has just published in 2020: “Transitional Justice and the ‘Disappeared’ of Northern Ireland”.
  • Respondent: Dr. Rainer Huhle, Germany, independent expert of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance (2011-2019). Member of the Coalition Enforced Disappearances in Colombia and lecturer at the Master of Human Rights program of the University Erlangen/Nürnberg.
  • Moderator: Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, Ulster University.

The seminar is part of the “Following the Footsteps of the Disappeared”, a three-year programme that started in Chile in 2019 incorporating seminars and a textile display to mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August. It will end in Mexico in August 2022.

“Following the Footsteps of the Disappeared” is a partnership between Conflict Textiles, the Ulster Museum and the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, Ulster University.