Impunity Watch (IW), International Development Law Organization (IDLO), and the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) organised an expert meeting entitled “Making Transitional Justice Work” from 25-27 November 2015 in The Hague. The meeting convened a highly qualified group of policy makers, practitioners and experts in the field of traditional justice to discuss and develop new ideas for effective and reinvigorated transitional justice policy in accordance with practical challenges. The meeting also focused on the practical guide on transitional justice to be used by the Dutch government and other policy-makers in the field. The Chair attended the meeting, participated and facilitated a session.
Importantly, the UN Special Rapporteur for Transitional Justice Pablo De Greiff has been visiting Northern Ireland this week (9-18 November) to assess the initiatives undertaken to deal with the legacies of the violations and abuses that took place during the period known as ‘the Troubles’ in Northern Ireland. Professor Hamber was able to meet the Special Rapporteur during the visit he made to various organisations, government bodies and groups. Professor Hamber shared with him his views and research on the issue of dealing with the past in Northern Ireland. Following the visit the UN Special Rapporteur released some preliminary findings. These can be downloaded here.
The Chair attended a high level policy dialogue in Sweden this week, 14-15 October 2015. The meeting focused on the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non-recurrence latest report. The report focuses specifically on the issue of non-recurrence. The Special Rapporteur draws attention to different interventions that can impact of non-recurrence including the role of civil society, the spheres of culture and personal dispositions, as well as the role education reform, arts and culture, and trauma counselling. Professor Hamber focused his interventions and presentation on “Cultural Interventions in Divided Societies: Lessons from Northern Ireland”.
In early September the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, undertook a visit to Colombia (17-24 September 2015).
At the time, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were in the midst of negotiations to end a conflict that has spanned some 50 years.
The conflict has seen the death of some 250,000 people (80% civilians) and the displacement of 6.5 million people. Formal talks began in November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana. Several accords have been reached and the final agreement is set to be signed in 2016.
Professor Hamber was invited to Colombia at the request of the City of Valledupar, one of the cities (some 1.5 hours north east of Bogota by plane) that was most affected by conflict. Under the leadership of Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales, a series of conferences, presentations, and workshops is being organized, which will focus on preparing the regional implementation of the peace.
Professor Hamber addressed a range of community members (about 150-200) over a two-day process to discuss comparative peace lessons at a community level. He also met with the Mayor. After the community engagements he spent some days in Bogota meeting some key players in the peace process and sharing lessons with them and different civil society members.
The trip ended with a presentation to about 200-300 training lawyers at Libre University in Bogotá as part of conference on Reconciliation, Civil Law and Commissions. Again the focus was on comparative lessons from Northern Ireland.
Recently, the Chair published:
Hamber, Brandon (2015). There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice. Human Rights Review, 1-26.
This is an important publication as it outlines key tenants of how the issue of could be dealt with in post-conflict settings, a very under-explored area. The article outlines three fissures evident in the embryonic scholarship, that is the privileging of direct violence and its limited focus, the continuities and discontinuities in militarised violence into peace time, and the tensions between new (less violent) masculinities and wider inclusive social change. The article argues for the importance of making visible the tensions between different masculinities and how masculinities are deeply entangled with systems of power and post-conflict social, political and economic outcomes. An analysis of masculine power within and between the structures aimed at building the peace in societies moving out of violence is considered essential. The article argues for an analysis that moves beyond a preoccupation with preventing violent masculinities from manifesting through the actions of individuals to considering how hidden masculine cultures operate within a variety of hierarchies and social spaces.
Masculinity is now a developing area and the Chair’s work has contributed to this, and Professor Hamber will also attend a conference in Oxford on the issue in October 2016.
The paper can be downloaded here for those with academic access, or alternative email Professor Hamber for a copy.
On returning from Washington DC, Professor Hamber spoke on 12 September 2015 at the Irish Association for Economic, Cultural and Social Relations, Stephen’s Green-Hibernian Club in Dublin on the topic of “Transforming Societies After Political Violence”. The lecture focused on the challenges of building peace in societies emerging from conflict and emphasised the importance of creating context-driven approaches to political and social trauma. The lecture also focused on how dealing with the past remains a key aspect of the Northern Ireland peace process that still needs to be grappled with.
On 9 September 2015 the Chair attended an event to inaugurate the John J. Sweeney Scholarship Scholarship in Peace at the Hay-Adams Hotel, Washington. The scholarship, supported by the AFL-CIO, will provide an opportunity for US-based student with union connections to undertake the INCORE MSc. in Applied Peace and Conflict Studies. With the Development and Alumni Office at Ulster University, the Chair has been involved with the fundraising campaign.
At the event Professor Hamber introduced the first Sweeney Scholar, Jennifer Johnson. After growing up in South Bend, Indiana, Jennifer enlisted into the United States Navy as a boiler technician on board the USS Samuel Gompers in California, and then on board the USS Simon Lake in Italy. Upon honorable fulfillment of a 4 year enlistment, Jennifer returned to Indiana to receive a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice at Indiana University South Bend through the School of Public and Environmental Affairs. An internship with the Systems Department in the United States Federal Court in the Northern District of Indiana led to full-time employment with the Clerk’s Office where she held the positions of Case Administrator, Operations Manager (Southern District of Indiana), and Courtroom Deputy. In 2015, Jennifer left the Court to continue her education with the University of Ulster in the MSc Appliced Peace and Conflict Resolution program.