On 31 August 2021, The Chair moderated a seminar entitled “Transitional Justice and the ‘Disappeared’ of Northern Ireland”. The seminar explores local and international issues of dealing with enforced disappearances. Speakers at the Seminar included:
Dr Lauren Dempster, Lecturer in the School of Law at Queens University Belfast, who has just published in 2020: “Transitional Justice and the ‘Disappeared’ of Northern Ireland”.
Respondent: Dr. Rainer Huhle, Germany, independent expert of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearance (2011-2019). Member of the Coalition Enforced Disappearances in Colombia and lecturer at the Master of Human Rights program of the University Erlangen/Nürnberg.
Moderator: Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, Ulster University.
The seminar is part of the “Following the Footsteps of the Disappeared”, a three-year programme that started in Chile in 2019 incorporating seminars and a textile display to mark International Day of the Victims of Enforced Disappearances on 30 August. It will end in Mexico in August 2022.
“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.
Article published today by Professor Hamber in the Belfast Telegraph on the British Government’s proposal for an amnesty for all conflict-related offences.
“Amnesty a line in the sand? It’s not even close”
If we know anything about the Johnson government in the UK, they are not great at sticking to agreements or taking the views of the devolved nations seriously. The recent statement by the Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis, proposing new legislation to enforce a statute of limitations for all conflict-related violations in Northern Ireland fits this mould.
In July 2019, following a 15-month consultation on the legacy proposal in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA) of 2014 agreed by all political parties, the British Government committed to its full implementation. Two years later, it is now proposing to pull the SHA apart.
The recent proposals remove a focus on justice and investigation, favouring information recovery and storytelling under an undefined banner of reconciliation. All of Northern Ireland’s five main political parties, the Irish government, civil society organisations and most victims’ groups are heavily critical of what amounts to an amnesty for conflict-era offences. Yet, the views of the people of Northern Ireland, and especially victims of both state and non-state violence, seem to matter little.
This dialogue was part of the new seminar series entitled Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series. The seminar series explores 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.
Amnesty International and Ulster University held a series of online events with experts and survivors to inform the investigation process in the Mother and Baby Homes and Magdalene Laundries during March and April 2021. The Chair spoke at the one of these public panels on 23 April 2021 to share lessons from transitional justice for the design of the inquiry. The recording is presented below.
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.
Ulster University has confirmed that its highly regarded CAIN archive will be retained as a live and curated archive, made possible by support from Initiatives of Change. The funding follows a consultation in 2019 and comprehensive efforts by the University and the CAIN team to secure the long-term future of the archive. The funding will directly support a significant modernisation of the site, including the introduction of cutting-edge archival content management systems not available when the CAIN site was first pioneering online archives, over two decades ago. The University is also making funds available to invest in the technology that will enhance the experience for all those who use the popular platform.
Saddened to learn of the death of AFL-CIO President Emeritus, John J. Sweeney. Ulster University offers an annual John J Sweeney Scholarship in his name. It has been a very successful programme so far, attracting some great recipients over the years since his launch to our MSc Peace and Conflict Studies. We feel privileged to offer this scholarship at Ulster University in honour of President Emeritus Sweeney and it now forms an even more important and fitting legacy to his lifetime’s work. The scholarship, for a full-time student from the USA with Union connections, is generously supported by AFL-CIO.
The tributes paid by the President of the United States, and all who knew him, are a testament to the impact that he had on the lives of so many working people. We feel honoured to have hosted Mr Sweeney and his wife at the Magee Campus a few years ago when we launched the scholarship. Our condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues at this immensely sad time.