On 10 March 2021 the Chair presented a paper at the “Understanding Violence Seminar Series” hosted by the Department of War Studies, King’s College London.
This talk explored how peace processes, and the aftermath, are experienced by survivors and former combatants. It argues that the change in context embodies a range of new forms of violence and harm for some. It draws on case studies of empirical research with former combatants and survivors in Northern Ireland and South Africa, as well the case of some Vietnam Veterans who formed part of a recent research project. It explores how a sequential understanding of trauma can help explain the challenge of reframing meaning away from violence once a formal peace has been established.
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”.
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.
The fifth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Reconciliation and Dealing with the Past: A global perspective” was hosted online on 28 July 2020, 55 people attended.
The seminar was given by Dr Fanie du Toit, Senior Research Fellow and Former Executive Director, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa & Technical Advisor (Community Dialogue), and part of the In Transformation Initiative, Myanmar. The seminar discussed three prominent conceptual models of reconciliation which have been used internationally as a guiding metaphor for political transition from war or oppression to something “new”. It included references to the South African, Iraqi and Myanmar cases, each of which continue to pose their unique challenges to prevailing theories on reconciliation. The seminar explored the idea of reconciliation as understood as a complex, ever-evolving form of inter-dependence.
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. The seminar was chaired by Professor Brandon Hamber.
DCAF (Geneva Centre for Security Sector Reform) with UN Women organised a panel discussion on integrating gender into truth-telling to create a platform for institutional reform on 23 July 2020. Seminar is now online.
Ibtihel Abdellatif, Chair of the Women’s Committee, Tunisia Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD)
Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), Ulster University
Farah Tanis, Executive Director, Black Women’s Blueprint (US), Commissioner BWB Truth Commission USA
Yasmin Sooka, Commissioner, UN CoHR on South Sudan and former Truth Commissioner for South Africa TRC, Sierra Leone TRC
The fourth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Dealing with the Past and the SHA: Is a transformative gender approach possible?” was hosted online on 24 June 2020, with some 60 people joining online.
In the seminar Claire Hackett, Healing Through Remembering & Falls Community Council and Dr Catherine O’Rourke, reflected on the exclusion of women and gender from dominant approaches to dealing with the past in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA). The seminar discussed a specific intervention to remedy these absences and silences, namely the development of Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past by a network of women drawn from academia, the human rights and victims sectors. The seminar further reflected on the opportunity to address gender more broadly in any process to deal with the past, in particular the inclusion of LGBTQ experiences and perspectives. The seminar reflected on some of the reasons why these perspectives have been so absent from the primary debate, and considered possible strategies and approaches for devising a more gender-inclusive process.
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. The seminar was chaired by Professor Brandon Hamber. The seminar can now be watched online.