Covid-19, Mental Health and Peace

Today, the Chair addressed the UN General Assembly High-level Week event on “COVID-19 and the role of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in building resilience and sustaining social cohesion and peace”. The event was hosted by the Kingdom of the Netherlands in cooperation with the Center on International Cooperation and the g7+. The Chair spoke on the invitation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The event was co-Chaired by H.E. Ms. Sigrid Kaag, Minister for Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and H.E. Ms. Amina Mohammed, UN Deputy Secretary-General.

The aim of the event was to present and discuss how Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in the context of COVID-19 can help individuals and communities to retain or regain resilience, to strengthen solidarity and cohesion, to address trauma and to foster reconciliation. And how MHPSS can help counter social disintegration and help to support efforts to build and sustain peace. The Chair’s input focused on his work with the Netherlands government as part of their Task Team exploring the integration of MHPSS into the UN peacebuilding architecture.

The speech given by Professor Hamber can be downloaded entitled “What is known and done already on MHPSS in (COVID-) crisis response and in efforts to build and sustain peace?“.

Briefing: Historical Institutional Abuse

Professor Patricia Lundy and Professor Brandon Hamber have now published a Policy Brief based on work on historical institutional abuse and transitional justice.

This policy briefing draws upon the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry to explicate the nexus of historical institutional abuse inquiries with transitional justice approaches. Through detailed analysis of empirical research with those who gave testimony to the Inquiry, the briefing explores to what extent the Inquiry was victim-centric, participatory and responsive. Drawing on lessons from transitional justice, the brief outlines five recommendations that could strengthen the victim-centred nature of approaches to dealing with the legacy of historical child abuse. The brief concludes that addressing victims’ needs should be the linchpin for both transitional justice and historical institutional abuse approaches.

To download the Policy Brief, click here.

To download the longer Research Article, click here.

Statues, History & Commemoration

Writing in Medium, the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber shared his views on the recent controversies surrounding statues of the past.

The article entitled “Statues Don’t Teach History, They Applaud It” begins:

“Recently I saw a piece quoting the Vice-Chancellor of Oxford, Louise Richardson, saying removing from Oriel College the statue of Cecil John Rhodes, the colonial administrator and financier, risks hiding history. The UK Prime Minister has also expressed the view, in a series of Tweets noting, particularly in relation to the statue of Winston Churchill, that “statues teach us about our past, with all its faults”. Am I the only one who thinks this is nonsense? Statues are not about history or pedagogy but commemoration. Should we commemorate people like Cecil John Rhodes today?

“Statue of Cecil John Rhodes at UCT” in Cape Town by barbourians is licensed with CC BY 2.0. The statue was removed in April 2015.

If the Vice-Chancellor is so concerned about history you can take down the statue and leave a large plinth explaining Rhodes brutal history and Oxford’s relationship with colonialism. Or better still teach history in one of the esteemed colleges, or make a podcast, a movie or build a website, or even consult a book. I don’t learn history from statues. Does anyone? Statues tell us who society values and about the values of those commemorated.”

To read the full article, click here.

NIAC Submission: Mental Health

In early 2020 the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee (NIAC) launched a new consultation on “Addressing the Legacy of Northern Ireland’s past: The UK Government’s New Proposals”. This consultation specifically focused on the Northern Ireland Secretary of State, Brandon Lewis’, proposal around dealing with the past, i.e. the Ministerial Statement: Addressing Northern Ireland Legacy Issues: Written statement HCWS168 (18 March 2020). The NIAC consultation sought views on this statement.

In response to this consultation, the Chair and Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Professor of Mental Health Sciences, Ulster University, made a submission to the Committee. Our submission (download in full here) argues that the new proposals aim to address some of our concerns about the Stormont House Agreement by reducing the number of institutions that victims and survivors will need to engage with. This minimises the risk that victims will be re-traumatised by having to engage with multiple institutions. However, the new proposals also emphasise the process of gathering information rather than justice. We argue that this will cause significant hurt to many for whom justice was required for meaning-making, and who had awaited justice in order to process the trauma and recover. You can read more here.

Transitional Justice & Historical Abuse

Professors Brandon Hamber and Patricia Lundy have published a new article on “Lessons from Transitional Justice? Toward a New Framing of a Victim-Centered Approach in the Case of Historical Institutional Abuse”. The article was published in the journal Victims and Offenders in April 2020.

The article critically examines transitional justice mechanisms to determine if historical abuse inquiries can learn from this field of practice. The article explores the Northern Ireland Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry which reported its findings in January 2017 as a vehicle for addressing what lessons might be learned or shared between the fields of transitional justice and investigations into historical abuse. Through a detailed analysis of empirical research with those that gave testimony to the Inquiry, including fourthly-three victims and Inquiry transcripts, the article explores to what extent the Inquiry was victim-centered, enabled victim participation (beyond giving testimony) and addressed victim needs. The article shows that many of the flaws of transitional justice mechanisms have been replicated when dealing with historical child abuse.

Drawing on lessons from transitional justice – both positive and negative – the article outlines five broad areas for consideration that could strengthen the victim-centered nature of approaches to dealing with the legacy of historical child abuse. The article concludes that addressing victims’ needs should be at the center and drive approaches and processes for both transitional justice and historical institutional abuse.

To request the article contact Professor Hamber. If you have journal access the article can be downloaded here.

Psychosocial: UN State Consultation

On 29 April 2020, at the request of the Stabilisation and Humanitarian Aid Department of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Chair participated in an international Member State Consultation focusing on psychosocial issues and peacebuilding.

The event was aimed at enhancing the psychosocial focus on peacebuilding as part of the current 2020 Review of the UN Peacebuilding Architecture. The Chair is currently working on a working group with the Dutch government on their submission for the review. At the Member State Consultation, the Chair presented a paper entitled “Mind the past to build the future: Systematic attention for Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts”. The paper provides a basic introduction to the psychosocial dynamics that need to be analysed and addressed when working on the peace-conflict continuum, and the value-added of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support (MHPSS) in peacebuilding efforts.

To download the paper, click here.

Masculinities in Transition Publications

The issue of masculinities in conflict is a topic Professor Hamber has been working on for some years now. This work now explores the changing nature of masculinities in conflict, its relationship to transitional justice and how the Women, Peace and Security Agenda addresses issues of masculinity (or not). The Chair has published numerous articles on masculinities, and due to ongoing requests in this area below a list of these publications is now made available:

I have numerous requests for my writing and publications on masculinities, conflict and transition. So below I have compiled a list of published work to date:

  • Hamber, Brandon (2015). There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice. Human Rights Review, 17 (1). pp. 9-34 [Request Copy or Access in the Journal]

  • Gallagher, Elizabeth and Hamber, Brandon (2015). Addressing the psychosocial needs of young men: The case of Northern Ireland. In: Psychosocial Perspectives on Peacebuilding. Springer: New York, pp. 90-149 [More Information]

  • Hamber, Brandon and Gallagher, Elizabeth (2014) Ships passing in the night: psychosocial programming and macro peacebuilding strategies with young men in Northern Ireland. Intervention: Journal of Mental Health and Psychosocial Support in Conflict Affected Areas, 12 (1), 43-60 [Download]

  • Hamber, B. (2010). Masculinity and Transition: Crisis or Confusion in South Africa? Journal of Peacebuilding and Development, 5(3), 75-88 [Request Copy or Access in the Journal]

  • Hamber, B. & Palmary, I. (2009). Gender, Memorialization, and Symbolic Reparations. In R. Rubio-Marin (Ed.), The Gender of Reparations: Unsettling Sexual Hierarchies While Redressing Human Rights Violations (pp. 324-381). New York: Cambridge University Press [Request Copy]

  • Hamber, B. (2007). Masculinity and Transitional Justice: An Exploratory Essay. Peace Prints: South Asian Journal of Transitional Justice, 3(1), Autumn [Download]
  • Hamber, B. (2007). Masculinity and Transitional Justice: An Exploratory Essay. International Journal of Transitional Justice, 1(3), 375-390 [Request Copy or Access in the Journal]

  • Hamber, B. (2006). Where are the men in the battle for equality? Look South and Polity, 20 October 2006

  • Hamber, B. (2006, 12-13 October). ‘We must be very careful how we emancipate our women’: shifting masculinities in post-apartheid South Africa. Paper presented at the Re-Imagining Women’s Security: a Comparative Study of South Africa, Northern Ireland and Lebanon Round Table, New York [Download]

  • Hamber, B., Hillyard, P., Maguire, A., McWilliams, M., Robinson, G., Russell, D., et al. (2006). Discourses in Transition: Re-Imagining Women’s Security. International Relations, 20(4), 487-502 [Request Copy or Access in the Journal]

If you cannot access any of the above publications, please send a request and it will be forwarded.