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.

Justice in Jeopardy

You can now watch online the UTV short documentary “Up Close – Justice in Jeopardy?” which debates the current legacy proposals by the British Government.

Featuring the John Hume and Thomas P.O’Neill Chair in Peace Professor Brandon Hamber, Professor Louise Mallinder, Baroness Nuala O’Loan, Denis Bradley, Lord Richard Dannatt and Alan McBride from the WAVE Trauma Centre.

Watch the UTV Special https://www.itv.com/utvprogrammes/articles/up-close-justice-in-jeopardy

Northern Ireland amnesty?

Article published today by Professor Hamber in the Belfast Telegraph on the British Government’s proposal for an amnesty for all conflict-related offences.

“Amnesty a line in the sand? It’s not even close”

If we know anything about the Johnson government in the UK, they are not great at sticking to agreements or taking the views of the devolved nations seriously. The recent statement by the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, proposing new legislation to enforce a statute of limitations for all conflict-related violations in Northern Ireland fits this mould.

In July 2019, following a 15-month consultation on the legacy proposal in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) of 2014 agreed by all political parties, the British Government committed to its full implementation. Two years later, it is now proposing to pull the SHA apart.

“The Troubles,Belfast, Northern Ireland 1970–2 Coldstream Guards” by Kaspar C at  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The recent proposals remove a focus on justice and investigation, favouring information recovery and storytelling under an undefined banner of reconciliation. All of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties, the Irish government, civil society organisations and most victims’ groups are heavily critical of what amounts to an amnesty for conflict-era offences. Yet, the views of the people of Northern Ireland, and especially victims of both state and non-state violence, seem to matter little.

Read more https://brandonhamber.medium.com/759595928619

Seminar UN Envoy on Youth

The Chair facilitated a session on Thursday 20 May 2021, with the UN Secretary Generals’ Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake. In her talk the UN Envoy on Youth discussed UN priorities and issues concerning youth, peace and security.

This dialogue was part of the new seminar series entitled Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series. The seminar series explores the positive contribution of youth to peace. Every 6-8 weeks, an online platform will be 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 Peace, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), the Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue and Interpeace.

To review all posts about the series, click Categories, Events and “Youth Leadership Series” on right side bar.

UN Youth Envoy & Young Leaders

On Thursday 20 May 2021, the UN Secretary Generals’ Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, held a unique meeting with 20 young people from across 10 local and regional organisations in Northern Ireland and the border regions.

Jayathma Wickramanayake

This was part of the new seminar series entitled Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series.

In preparation for a public dialogue with the UN Secretary Generals’ Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, 10 youth organisations were consulted and detailed discussions took place. Here Elizabeth McArdle of Ulster University and Youth Pact who led the webinar with the Chair, captures the spirit of what was discussed and shares two padlets reflecting content put forward by the youth groups who took part. 

Young People as contributors to peace

Padlet. To view the details click this link.

Resolution 2250 recognises the contribution that young people make to peace and security locally and globally. Young leaders explained the work and roles they undertake to build grassroots communities and peace-building initiatives locally; from community gardens, to podcasts on mental health; from drumming workshops to recording My Story; from lobbying and campaigning to civic action and marches. 

To see the work and actions of this group of young leaders, click this link.

Young participants spoke about the building of tolerance within our society; with competing identities that need to find space to exist. Where tolerance is lacking, then violence spills over.  However, tolerance was viewed as a pitstop on the journey, with real acceptance and connection with other different people and cultures being part of a lasting peace.  

Issues of education were fore-fronted with the educational under-achievement of Protestant young people highlighted and access issues for young people with disabilities adding to issues of systemic inequality.  For these, young people called for greater engagement with the formal education structures and local politicians. 

Mental Health

This is a serious presenting issue, for the UN youth Envoy and for the young people locally.  Links were made between young people living in poverty and under pressures, and their experiences of mental health.  The pressures on young people and their access to mental health services has been exacerbated due to Covid-19.  Immediate investment is needed by governments to address these issues and give young people the support to recover from the educational and social isolation of the past year.  

Padlet. To see the details click here.

This is a snapshot of the discussion with the young people on 20th May 2021; with further discussions of the gendered nature of peace-building and conflict; the daily actions of bread-and-butter peace-building and the ‘silent pandemic of mental health’.  

To see more of the young people’s concerns, passions and actions, click here.

Youth, Peace & Security Leadership Series

This dialogue was part of the new seminar series entitled Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series. The seminar series explores the positive contribution of youth to peace. Every 6-8 weeks, an online platform will be 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 Peace, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), the Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue and Interpeace.

To review all posts about the series, click Categories, Events and “Youth Leadership Series” on right side bar.

‘New normal’ is abnormal

Professor Brandon Hamber, Hume O’Neill Chair, has published a new piece in Belfast Telegraph.

In my work dealing with the impact of political violence, a constant challenge is reminding people that when addressing survivors’ needs during times of conflict, it is the social context that is often the primary stressor. For example, as much as therapy for victims of conflict is useful, its value is limited if the conflict’s legacy persists and the social environment is destroyed.

You also cannot think about conflict without understanding that it has differential impacts. In Northern Ireland, for example, the neighbourhoods with the highest conflict death rate are those with the highest levels of poverty. When it comes to addressing the mental health impact of Covid-19, it seems we have a similar situation. We are acting as if the pandemic is only a medical problem, a behavioural issue (wear your mask, wash your hands, socially distance) and finally, a psychological question of coping mentally.

Continue reading on Medium, link.

“Coronavirus – baby and mom” by https://www.vperemen.com is licensed under CC BY 2.0

St Patrick’s Symposium

At the invitation of the John Hewitt Society, the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, was asked to speak at the St Patrick’s Symposium on 15 March 2021. The Symposium focused on the topic of Reminiscence.

The event “At Home with St. Patrick” in Armagh differed from other St. Patrick’s festivals by examining and celebrating who St. Patrick was, his values, his life and his legacy. This holistic approach aimed to offer insights that can reflect on life in the contemporary world.

Drawing on this broad idea, the Chair’s lecture focused on the topic of “Nostalgia, Conflict and Dreaming of Never Again”. The lecture explored the complicated process of remembering conflict, and the tension between solidarity and relationship building within communities (which can be remembered nostalgically) and the horrors of the political conflict itself.