This paper explores the key issue of mental health and psycho-social services (MHPSS), from a youth-specific perspective. Drawing on the assertions and recommendations of the YPS Progress Study, and coupled with the increasing attention to MHPSS within the sustaining peace agenda, this policy brief pays special attention to the role of youth-specific psycho-social services as a vital dimension of transformative youth resilience, essential to both addressing the consequences and prevention of violent conflict.
This is a report commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.
On 29 March 2022, the Chair – with partners The John and Pat Hume Foundation, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace – hosted “Visions for Peace – Perspectives on Local and Global Youth Practice”.
Speakers addressed the questions: How do we engage young people in peacebuilding? What vision do our young people hold for a peaceful society? How does that influence what we prioritize when doing this work?
The event was Chaired by Professor Hamber with the following speakers:
Andy Hamilton is currently a Research Associate at Ulster University. He recently completed his PhD study titled Theorising Youth Sector Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland.
Eliška Jelínková is a Co-Director at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and a co-chair of the Global Coalition on Youth Peace and Security.
Ali Altiok is a doctoral student in Peace Studies and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research examines political inclusion and securitization of young people in the context of peacebuilding processes.
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 Peace, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace.
The report points to the gap (noted in the YPS Progress Study’s recommendations) on masculinity and masculine identities as part of the gendered approach to implementing the YPS agenda. This policy brief focuses attention on supporting the development of alternative and positive masculine identities. While the paper draws on lived experiences in Northern Ireland, it derives lessons and recommendations, captures stories, and offers a narrative with wider relevance for other contexts.
The report was commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.
Speaking at the launch of the textile exhibition, Mo Hume, daughter of John and Pat Hume said: “We are honoured that Conflict Textiles and the Hume/O’Neill Chair have commissioned these beautiful pieces in memory of our parents. Before she died, Mum spoke at length to Roberta Bacic, the curator, as she found the work of Conflict Textiles truly inspiring. The fact that they are displayed in the Magee Library where Dad spent so much time and wrote the bulk of his Master’s thesis, is particularly special for us. They both believed passionately in the power of education and were strong supporters of the Magee campus. We would also like to offer our deep appreciation to Deborah Stockdale and Linda Adams, the textile makers, for their outstanding work.”
The first piece of commemorative textile is entitled John Hume, Peacemaker and was created by Deborah Stockdale. The embroidered portrait represents the multifaceted nature of Derry native John Hume: teacher, Credit Union organiser, civil rights campaigner, nationalist politician and founding member and leader of the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP). To create the piece Deborah had discussions with John’s daughter Mo which helped her to move beyond his public persona and gave her a sense “[of] John, the man and father”. The textile includes one of John’s neckties which was donated by his wife Pat shortly before she passed away on 2 September 2021. Embroidered onto the textile is a quote from John’s Nobel lecture in Oslo in 1998 that reads “The basis of peace and stability, in any society, has to be the fullest respect for the human rights of all its people” along with two oak leaf symbols, to represent his beloved city of Derry. The cluster of five oak leaves signifies his five children who were central in John’s life, influenced from Deborah’s conversations with Mo, and the cluster of six leaves underneath his name represent the six counties of Ulster.
The second piece is entitled Pat Hume and was created by Linda Adams. Following the Chilean arpillera tradition, the piece honours the life and legacy of Pat Hume and features two central images, one of her beside John fully engaging and supporting his work while the second image depicts John and Pat on the day that Pat was conferred with an honorary degree from Ulster University Magee Campus in 2010. Framed around these two images are a multitude of tributes to Pat.
The exhibit also features objects belonging to the couple that were hand-picked by their children.
Roberta Bacic, Conflict Textiles Curator, said “We are honoured to present these two stitched and embroidered portraits of John and Pat to the Hume family, the wider Derry community and beyond. It seems the appropriate time and occasion to celebrate their lives and humanity, close to their birthdays. We wanted to acknowledge John and Pat Hume’s absence via the powerful language of textiles; a language we have developed since 2008. As in their lifelong partnership of over 60 years, John and Pat’s presence will confront us, urging us to build on their work towards sustainable peace.”
Dr Colin Davidson, Ulster University Chancellor, who was in attendance at the launch commented: “Art of all mediums has a very powerful role to play in remembering and making sense of the past. I was delighted to unveil these latest textiles that pay such a creative tribute to a couple who brought such positive change to the lives of so many people across these islands. The use of textiles is particularly appropriate because the making of art with our hands has an impact that goes beyond the making of the piece. It has been a privilege to attend the Conflict Textiles exhibit and pay tribute to the Hume family. When I look at these pieces of art I see love, hope, commitment, compassion, empathy and that’s everything that sums John and Pat Hume up. It is an honour for Ulster University to modestly continue John’s legacy through our establishment of the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace on the Magee Campus, held by Professor Brandon Hamber who currently engages in peacebuilding work locally and internationally and indeed through our partnership with the John and Pat Hume Foundation which sees us together reach a new generation of youth leaders.”
The exhibit is open to the public from the 28 January 2022 to 28 July 2022 and is located on the First Floor of Ulster University Magee Campus Library, Block MM. Members of the public are advised to follow Ulster University’s current Covid guidelines of wearing face coverings and remaining socially distanced while visiting the exhibit.
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].
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.
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.
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.”
“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.”
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.
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.