As part of his state visit to the UK, Juan Manuel Santos arrived in Belfast today. He was welcomed at Stormont by First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. He also attended a lunch at the Titanic Centre organised by InvestNI, and then visited the Girdwood Community Hub. Professor Hamber was offered to opportunity to attend the Girdwood event, however, due to prior commitments with a visiting delegation from Georgia could not attend.
However, Professor Hamber and Professor Mallinder were interviewed by BBC Radio Ulster about the visit to Northern Ireland. Listen to the interview, click below.
Great to hear John Caulker speak about “Sustainable Peace in Post Ebola Sierra Leone” at a recent seminar hosted by the Chair within INCORE. It was fascinating to hear how the community networks that the project John Caulker established called Fambul Tok (“Family Talk”) were used to help building community resilience in the face of the virus. Fambul Tok was set up to deal with the legacy of war and focused on sharing stories often from perpetrators of violence, but the community solidarity they built through that reconciliation project became instrumental in combating misperceptions and changing behaviour around Ebola. They are now looking to roll out a wider process of networks since the end of the epidemic. Caulker was also critical of the international community who treated the epidemic as solely a medical problem failing to see that engagement of communities was needed to stop it and that communities also had to deal with the problems Ebola caused (inter-community tensions and stigma). In post-Ebola Sierra Leone problems still prevail in that funding support is for “Ebola victims” which singles people out rather than support whole communities. Caulker believes any interventions should be community-centric.
The seminar was recorded and the recording will be posted on the Hume O’Neill Peace Blog soon.
The John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace will be hosting the seminar “Go Local: The role of communities in ensuring sustainable peace in post Ebola Sierra Leone” by John Caulker. John Caulker founded and has led the implementation of the Fambul Tok program since its inception in 2007, initially through his position as the founding Executive Director of Sierra Leonean human rights NGO, Forum of Conscience.
Date: 26 September 2016. Time: 1pm to 2:30pm. Venue: Ulster University, Belfast Campus, York Street, BA-03-019.
In May the Chair travelled to Uganda. The trip was aimed at continuing to forge links with the Refugee Law Project and specially to participate in The Institute for African Transitional Justice (IATJ) an annual event established in 2010, by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) with financial support by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF).
The event brings together transitional justice experts from across the African continent and beyond, to develop timely, topical and context-appropriate African Transitional Justice theory and practice. The event brought together a total of 71 participants, from ten different countries across the globe including Spain, England, Northern Ireland, Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Germany, United States of America and host country Uganda.
Professor Hamber gave the keynote address to the conference which focused on theme “Too little too late – or too much too soon?- The Time and Timing of Transitional Justice”. The 6th IATJ was held in Gulu from 29th May to 03rd June 2016.
The event provided an important opportunity to better understand the long-term aftermath of the war that ostensibly ended in 2008.
On visiting some local communities in Northern Uganda it was clear that the issue of dealing with the disappeared, memories of the conflict and displacement, the consequences of physical and community destruction of resources, ongoing distrust of the current government to support local communities, and inter-community trust remain key issues.
Most impressive was the local mourning rituals that have been developed around dealing with the disappeared, work with male victims of sexual violence and also the Refugee Law Projects work in the new The National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre (NMPDC).
The Chair aims to continue to work with groups and individuals in developing work in Uganda in the coming years.
The Chair and INCORE are privileged to be associated with the Scholars at Risk programme. Today we were able to host Rezvan Moghaddam from Iran. Rezvan Moghaddam is a women’s rights activist, researcher and co-founder of the One Million Signature Campaign. She has set up various associations, groups and committees to empower women on issues of peace, environment, health and gender. She has published numerous articles, participated in conferences, seminars and international gatherings, where she has presented papers on women’s issues. She is one of the founders of International Campaign Against Violence in Iran (ICAV). She spoke today at a seminar at INCORE on the Role of Women`s Movement in Iran.
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.
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.