Basque Country Engagement

On 7 June 2019, The Chair was invited to a further Social Forum (hosted by Bake Bidea) in the Basque Country. This civil society structure aims to engage the wider society in the peace process and it took place in Biarritz. The Chair gave the keynote address followed by discussion with the wider public focusing on reconciliation and victims issues. The Forum specifically focused on issues in the French Basque Country, as well as reconciliation and victims issues.

Sexual Violence against Men

On 2 October 2018 the Chair hosted a public lecture on the Magee Campus by Dr Chris Dolan, Honorary Professor at Ulster University and Director of the Refugee Law Project. The lecture was entitled “Spheres of Harm: An Exploration of Conflict-Related Sexual Violence against Men”. The lecture focused on conflict-related sexual violence against men, and highlighted some of the major practical, conceptual and disciplinary challenges to dominant models for addressing sexual violence. Dr Dolan proposed an alternative approach to thinking about sexual violence in conflict which has a major impact on enhancing progressive models of gender justice.

Dr Chris Dolan, Honorary Professor at Ulster University and Director of the Refugee Law Project

Dr Arun Gandhi’s Lecture Online

Below is a copy of Dr Arun Gandhi’s, grandson of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi, lecture entitled “Building a Culture of Peace: Lessons from my Grandfather”.  Dr Gandhi delivered the lecture at the Great Hall on the Magee Campus as part of the launch of the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace.  The lecture was part supported by the Smyth Memorial lecture fund, and it is anticipated that the Smyth Memorial lecture will be an annual event hosted by the Chair.

Official Launch

The Chair was officially launched today 23 June 2016. This afforded a great opportunity to host Dr Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mohandas K. “Mahatma” Gandhi. Dr Gandhi delivered at the Great Hall on the Magee Campus an inspiring speech on peace and non-violence, as well as sharing the lessons he learned while growing up in his grandfather’s home in South Africa.  The visit was the first headline event to be hosted by the Chair, and served as a fitting and moving launch. During his visit Dr Gandhi also met with Ulster University students and staff and the Clinton Summer School at INCORE’s participants, as well as community leaders as part of an IFI hosted seminar. The lecture was also part supported by the Smyth Memorial lecture fund, and it is anticipated that the Smyth Memorial lecture will be an annual event hosted by the Chair.

Public lecture at Sigmund Freud University

On 12 January 2016 the Chair travelled to Berlin to the Sigmund Fhqdefaultreud University where he was asked to deliver a public lecture as part of their social psychology series. The title of the lecture Professor Hamber gave was “Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation”. The lecture explored how for victims of political violence they are often asked to live with ambivalence in a productive way, i.e. continue their lives after a peace process despite the
suffering and loss they have experiences. Similarly, Hamber argued that societies emerging from conflict need to find collective social and political ways of living with the ambivalences of the past. This type of thinking is difficult to reconcile with the approach of governments and policymakers, as it is hard to imagine how one can create policy for long-term (perhaps never-ending) processes for which there is no quick fix.

Engagement with Colombian Peace Process

Streets of Bogota
Streets of Bogota

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.

Meeting with Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales and giving him a gift of the Tip O'Neill Lectures book
With Mayor Reales presenting a gift of the Tip O’Neill lectures book

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.

Participants in the public meeting and also Dr Arun Gandhi who spoke at the event
Participants in the public meeting and also Dr Arun Gandhi who spoke at the event

Ulster Hosts President Clinton and Launches New Book

Ulster University hosted President Clinton’s 5th visit to Derry~Londonderry where he honoured John Hume’s outstanding contributions to peacebuilding, helped to launch ‘Peacemaking in the Twenty-first Century’ edited by John Hume, Tom G. Fraser and Leonie Murray and celebrated the University’s success in raising the £3m required to establish the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace.

For the full photo gallery click here.