Professor Hamber with partners Fambul Tok (Sierra Leone), Catalyst for Peace (US), Refugee Law Project (Uganda), Green String Network (Kenya), and the Research and Advocacy Unit and African University (Zimbabwe) secured a seed grant to develop a Global Challenges Research Fund project to bring together partners to consider: “What are the internal-external framework and relationships that genuinely, in practice, support the creation of resilient communities facing ongoing and dynamic peace and development challenges, and how can communities, local organisations and international donors help to grow these?”. A large inter-country meeting took place in Freetown in 22-26 January 2018. A range of new initiatives will now flow from the meeting including joint research and proposals.
In 2017 Interpeace and the Kofi Annan Foundation launched a joint project on reconciliation that aims to contribute to the current debates on reconciliation by identifying innovations and lessons that can inspire national and international actors engaged or willing to engage in reconciliation efforts, as well as shedding light on how such efforts can best be supported by international actors. Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly were contracted by the Kofi Annan Foundation to write a case study for the large research project, as well as contribute to a high-level symposium convened by Mr Kofi Annan aimed at capturing lessons on experiences of reconciliation and provide guidelines on how to design and implement reconciliation processes. Over 2017 Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly worked on research to inform their report (high level interviews with policymakers). A draft Northern Ireland case study was submitted to the Kofi Annan Foundation in the summer of 2017 and then presented to a high-level symposium in October 2017 in Bogota, Colombia. Kofi Annan opened the symposium on reconciliation in Bogota, Colombia. Grainne Kelly presented her and Brandon Hamber’s research on reconciliation and its challenges in Northern Ireland. You can see more about the event here: http://www.kofiannanfoundation.org/building-lasting-peace/reconciliation-symposium/
Professor Hamber spoke at the 29th Annual Nobel Peace Prize Forum at Augsburg University in Minneapolis. At the Forum he presented the paper “Cultivating Peace: An Exploration of the Role of Nature-Based Activities in Conflict Transformation”. This was a joint paper by Brandon Hamber and Alistair Little and Wilhelm Verwoerd. Little and Verwoerd belong to ‘Beyond Walls’ which organised ‘the Journey through Conflict’ process in the framework of ‘Sustainable Peace Network’.
In Mid-May 2017 Professor Hamber visited Uganda again as part of the Summer Institute focusing on “Men’s and Women’s Relations in Coercive Settings” (17-19 May 2017) hosted by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) and in War Partnership (CSiW). As part of the event Professor Hamber participated in a 2-day long workshops run by RLP and partners with men who were former combatants/abducted during the Northern Uganda war to learn from their experiences. The second part of the event was a more open conference focusing on women’s and men’s experiences of forced relationships in wartime.
The 9th International Conference of Museums for Peace was held in Belfast (10-13, April 2017). The International Network of Museums for Peace (INMP) is a global network of peace museums, peace gardens and other peace related sites, centres and institutions that share the aim to cultivate a global culture of peace. The conference theme was “Cities as Living Museums for Peace” and highlighted Belfast’s social and political transformation from a divided, troubled city to a one which models peace consciousness through post-conflict healing and reconciliation. The 9th International Conference of Museums for Peace was hosted by Ulster University, with the support of Visit Belfast. Professor Hamber, with community partners, helped develop the agenda of the global meeting and also gave the keynote address with Dr Elizabeth Crooke, Ulster University.
Professor Hamber spoke at a conference in Washington DC focusing on “Northern Ireland’s Lessons for Israeli-Palestinian Peace” held at the US Institute for Peace, 13 March 2017. This event also included Dr Adrian Johnston (IFI). More here http://buff.ly/2mFbfR0.
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.