Youth, Peace and Security Series

The Chair is delighted to be help organise and launch the new Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series. The seminar series will explore 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), and Interpeace.

Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Launch

The Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series will be launched on 8 March 2021 with “The Missing Peace”, championing young people as positive contributors to peace, register here.

By way of background, 0n 9 December 2015, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) adopted Resolution 2250. The resolution is an important landmark for recognising the positive role young people can play in conflict and post-conflict settings. The UN Secretary-General commissioned Graeme Simpson to carry out a global study on youth and peacebuilding mandated by UNSCR 2250. The study was presented to the Security Council in April 2018 and to the UN General Assembly in September 2018. A key message of this report, and subsequent work, is to recognise and support young people as positive contributors to peace, moving away from a deficit model that sees young people as a threat to security.

Launch Programme

To launch the series Graeme Simpson will share his experience from working not the report and subsequent processes. Speakers will include:

  • Graeme Simpson, Lead Author UN Independent Youth, Peace and Security Progress Study: “The Missing Peace”
  • Professor Mo Hume, Professor of Latin American Politics, University of Glasgow
  • Paddy Harte, Chairman, International Fund for Ireland
  • Chair: Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University

Register

RSVP essential to receive the live stream link which will be sent 48 hours before the seminar, so please register here.

Graeme Simpson is the Principal Representative (NY) & Senior Peacebuilding Adviser, Interpeace, a global peacebuilding organization working in 20 conflict and immediate post-conflict zones around the world. He was appointed by the UN Secretary-General as the Lead Author of the Independent Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security: The Missing Peace. He is also an Adjunct Lecturer in Law at Columbia University School of Law in New York City, where he teaches a seminar on transitional justice and peacebuilding. Graeme has an LLB and a master’s in History from the University of the Witwatersrand, South Africa. He was co-founder and Executive Director (1995-2005) of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation (CSVR) in Johannesburg, SA.

Colombian Truth Commission

A dialogue was held on 16 December 2020 hosted by the Truth Commission for Colombia entitled “Let’s talk about coexistence and reconciliation”. This reflexive dialogue focused on the mandate of the Commission to promote coexistence and reconciliation. The dialogue sought to learn from international experience to overcome challenges and help strengthening the work of the Commission and its legacy in Colombia.

The dialogue was an online discussion between panelists which included Professor Hamber. The participants, based on their experiences, responded to guiding questions put forward by the moderator. Participants included Brandon Hamber (Northern Ireland); Sergio Jaramillo (Colombia); John Paul Lederach (USA); Elizabeth Lira (Chile) and Kimberly Theidon (USA, Colombia).

In his input Professor Hamber stressed how despite significant investment in relationship building work in Northern Ireland from the EU, IFI and Atlantic Philanthropies that has strengthened community relationships, opportunities have not always been maximised. This he argued was because community and political processes have been treated separately., Ongoing political division at the leadership level undermines community interventions. In addition, the vision for reconciliation has focused on limited co-existence that accepts social, educational and residential divisions or changing these issue marginally, rather than a more transformative approach. The has created a negative rather than positive peace in Northern Ireland.

The panel discussion can be viewed below:

Experiences of Disappearances

As part of the ongoing “Following the Footsteps of the Disappeared” programme run by Conflict Textiles a new video interview was released on 10 December 2020, Human Rights Day.

In this video interview with Nicole Drouilly and Professor Brandon Hamber, Nicole shares, in-depth, her experiences of searching for her sister Jacqueline, husband and unborn child, who disappeared in Chile in 1974. The discussion centres around a textile she made about her experiences. The textile “Stitching the Search” was displayed on 3 December 2020 as part of the ‘Conflict Textiles’ permanent, rotating exhibition at the Magee Campus Library, Ulster University.

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. To find out more about Conflict Textiles visit.

Stitching the Search, Nicole Drouilly. Photo Andrew Proctor

Celebrating Rights, Right to Celebrate

On the evening of 9 December 2020, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) and her Youth Panel hosted a seminar to explore how the protections found within the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) can provide a framework for children and young people to confidently celebrate their identity and their culture in a non-conflictual way without threatening the identities and cultures of others.

Specifically, the event was a consultation and discussion aimed at assisting the Youth Panel to draw up a statement on how children’s rights can support children’s and young people’s expressions of identity and culture in a non-conflictual way. This is important in the context of the ‘Decade of Commemorations’ such as the Easter Rising and Battle of the Somme in 2016 and including the establishment of Northern Ireland as a state in 2021.

Professor Hamber was asked to address the group to help lay a foundation, along with other keynotes, for the group deliberations. In his input Professor Hamber reinforced the importance of young people’s participation in peace processes, and how research has routinely found young people feel excluded from mainstream peace processes. Professor Hamber made specific reference to United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Resolution 2250 adopted in 9 December 2015. This resolution, deals with the role of young people in issues of peace and security. Most important this resolution points to the positive role young people can play in peace processes.

Building on the “The Missing Peace” report, which was commissioned by the Secretary-General and authored by Graeme Simpson, Professor Hamber made the point that we should look at young people as an asset in peace processes rather than treating them (and particularly young men) as a threat. When it comes to issues such as commemoration, the point is not to force certain understandings of history about the past on young people, but give them the freedom to express their views and ensure their voices are heard. We need to let young people interact with the past, that is “it’s not about educating or sharing parents’ views. We need to give space for young people to interrogate the past and interpret it through the lens of present”.

MHPSS in Peacebuilding

On 15 October the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, gave an address to the “Annual Conference 2020: Harnessing Potential” hosted by The Knowledge Platform Security & Rule of Law. The speech focused on the “Enhanced Integration of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in Peacebuilding”. The speech focused on sharing the recommendations for the UN Peacebuilding Architecture Review developed with a multidisciplinary Task Force of which I was a member. The Task Force was established by the government of The Netherlands which is promoting the integration of mental health and psychosocial support in peacebuilding efforts. You can listen to my speech below:

Brandon Hamber · Recommendations of the Task Force on MHPSS in Peacebuilding and the Netherlands MFA

Memorialization as Truth-Telling

The sixth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Memorialization as Truth-Telling: Lessons from the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation” was hosted online on 21 October 2020, 58 people attended.

The seminar was given by Sara Bradshaw, Program Director for Transitional Justice at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC). The seminar discussed the opportunities, challenges and best practices for local-level memorialization efforts to serve as truth-telling initiatives in the absence of formal truth commissions. The seminar used practical examples and case studies from the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR), a consortium of nine partners led by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Lessons focused on cases in Colombia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, The Gambia, and other conflict and post-conflict contexts. These explored how community-driven truth-telling initiatives can help ensure that all members of society, particularly marginalized groups such as women and minorities, are able to share their stories and contribute to sustainable peace.

The seminar is part of the Transitional Justice Institute (TJI) and INCORE, in partnership with Healing Through Remembering and the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, online seminar series.

Covid-19, Mental Health and Peace

Today, the Chair addressed the UN General Assembly High-level Week event on “COVID-19 and the role of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in building resilience and sustaining social cohesion and peace”. The event was hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Center on International Cooperation and the g7+. The Chair spoke on the invitation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event was co-Chaired by H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General.

The aim of the event was to present and discuss how Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the context of COVID-19 can help individuals and communities to retain or regain resilience, to strengthen solidarity and cohesion, to address trauma and to foster reconciliation. And how MHPSS can help counter social disintegration and help to support efforts to build and sustain peace. The Chair’s input focused on his work with the Netherlands government as part of their Task Team exploring the integration of MHPSS into the UN peacebuilding architecture.

The speech given by Professor Hamber can be downloaded entitled “What is known and done already on MHPSS in (COVID-) crisis response and in efforts to build and sustain peace?“.