Beyond Intragroup Betrayal

Continuing our work on the issue of betrayal in peacebuilding Wilhem Verwoerd, Alistair Little and Brandon Hamber have published a new article in the Peacebuilding journal entitled “Beyond intragroup betrayal during intergroup relational peacebuilding”.

The article is open access and can be downloaded here.

This article addresses a neglected human cost of relational peacebuilding, identified in an earlier article on ‘peace as betrayal’. The focus here is how relational peacebuilders can respond to painful accusations of betrayal by family-type group members evoked by working with the ‘other side’. Continuing to draw on the reflections of experienced peace practitioners from South Africa, the Israel-Palestine region and the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, a contrasting distinction is made between two routes: a ‘clarification’ route that explains why working with ‘them’ is not a betrayal of ‘us’ vs a ‘counter-critique’ response that attempts to turn the traitor tables on the accusers. An evaluative discussion of the counter-critique route explores the pitfalls of political abuse, avoidance of shared responsibility and underestimating ‘thin’ relations (Margalit), as well as the complementary potential of the clarification and the counter-critique routes beyond peace as betrayal.

Peace Summit 2023

The John and Pat Hume Foundation and Community Dialogue, in partnership with the Glencree Centre for Peace & Reconciliation, Youth Action NI, Holywell Trust, Ulster University and Integrated Education Fund today launched the Peace Summit 2023. Twenty-five years on from the Good Friday Agreement the summit has took stock of the status of the peace process. The Chair played an integral role in working with the partners in drafting the Consultation Report launched on 3 March 2023. The partners are keen to hear your views on the peace process in Northern Ireland 25 years on. Read the document and reply to

Peace as Betrayal

A new article has been published by Wilhem Verwoerd, Alistair Little and Brandon Hamber that builds on our work on relational peacebuilding. It is entitled “Peace as Betrayal: On the Human Cost of Relational Peacebuilding in Transitional Contexts” and was published in the International Journal of Transitional Justice. Visit the journal website, or download the accepted version here.

This article explores the micro-dynamics of intragroup betrayal and self-betrayal that can be evoked by relational peacebuilding between groups. The painful accusation of betrayal by close, family-type group members and internally feeling like a betrayer as a result of working with the ‘other side’ is presented as an underestimated human cost of relational peacebuilding. This understanding emerged from an international ‘Beyond Dehumanisation’ research project, which included experienced peace practitioners from South Africa, the Israel-Palestine region and the conflict in and about Northern Ireland. The emerging diagnostic framework is supported by (and provides empirical support for) theories of betrayal that stress how deeply relational betrayal is. The resonance with Margalit’s theory of betrayal as the ‘undermining of thick relations’ is especially strong. ‘Peace as betrayal’ suggests the need for more practical support for peacebuilders and can also be applied more widely to render resistance to transitional justice processes more visible.

Youth and Psychosocial Support

Brandon Hamber; Denis Martinez; Marlies Stappers; David Taylor; and Thomas Unger have published “Youth, Peace and Security:  Psychosocial Support and Societal Transformation“.

This paper explores the key issue of mental health and psycho-social services (MHPSS), from a youth-specific perspective. Drawing on the assertions and recommendations of the YPS Progress Study, and coupled with the increasing attention to MHPSS within the sustaining peace agenda, this policy brief pays special attention to the role of youth-specific psycho-social services as a vital dimension of transformative youth resilience, essential to both addressing the consequences and prevention of violent conflict.

This is a report commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series.

Watch a Video Summary of the Report

Download the Report

Masculinities in Northern Ireland

Voices from the Margins: Young men and post-conflict masculinities in Northern Ireland” by Brandon Hamber and Conor Murray is now available online.

The report points to the gap (noted in the YPS Progress Study’s recommendations) on masculinity and masculine identities as part of the gendered approach to implementing the YPS agenda. This policy brief focuses attention on supporting the development of alternative and positive masculine identities. While the paper draws on lived experiences in Northern Ireland, it derives lessons and recommendations, captures stories, and offers a narrative with wider relevance for other contexts.

The report was commissioned by Interpeace for their Outside the Box: Amplifying youth voices and views on Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) policy and practice series

Watch a Video Summary of the Report

Download the Report

Healing after Mass Atrocity

The Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, with Professor Ingrid Palmary has just a published in a new article in Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal

Hamber, Brandon and Palmary, Ingrid (2021). A Dance of Shadows and Fires: Conceptual and Practical Challenges of Intergenerational Healing after Mass Atrocity. Genocide Studies and Prevention: An International Journal, 15 (3), 100-120 [Download].


The legacy of mass atrocity – including colonialism, slavery or specific manifestations such as apartheid – continue long after their demise. Applying a temporal inter-generational lens adds complications. We argue that mass atrocity creates for subsequent generations a deep psychological rupture akin to witnessing past atrocities. This creates a moral liability in the present. Healing is a process dependent on the authenticity (evident in discourse and action) with which we address contemporary problems. A further overriding task is to open social and political space for divergent voices. Acknowledgement of mass atrocity requires more than one-off events or institutional responses (the grand apology, the truth commission). Rather acknowledgement has to become a lived social, cultural and political reality. Without this acknowledgement, healing, either collectively or individually, is stymied. Healing after mass atrocity is as much about political action (addressing inequalities and racism) as an act of re-imaging created through constant and contested re-writing. 


Advocacy Services Report

Today the Commission for Victims and Survivors of Northern Ireland (CVSNI) and Ulster University (INCORE & TJI) launched the Advocacy Services Report focusing on advocacy and dealing with the past. The report was authored by Dr Maire Braniff, Professor Brandon Hamber, Dr Catherine O’Rourke, Dr Philip McCready and Dr John Bell.

Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair, speaking at the launch

The Report found that while the needs of victims and survivors are not homogenous there are core principles that underpin effective service provision. Essentially they should be victim-led, build trust, not create dependency, be compassionate and empathetic and value the lived experience and perspective of the individual. The groups offering advocacy were led by such principles. Further provision for dealing with the past should draw on and learn from the scale, diversity and experience of advocacy practice to date.

Equally, however, our research found that this was challenging work. There was unanimity amongst all service users and service providers that the biggest challenge was the systemic delay and the slow nature of legacy investigation and information recovery. The biggest scope for improvement in advocacy services was the accessibility of information and more streamlined and quicker responses from statutory agencies.