Seminar: UK Combat Impunity

The third seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Is the UK heading towards combat impunity?” was hosted online on 5 June 2020, with some 65 people joining online.

In the seminar Dr Thomas Hansen, Lecturer in Law and member of the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, focused on a number of initiatives and measures aimed at protecting military service personnel from investigation and prosecution currently being considered by the UK, including a Statute of Limitations, derogating from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) in future armed conflicts; amending the Human Rights Act, and restricting UK courts’ ability to adjudicate civil claims originating from conflicts abroad.

Dr Hansen argued that these measures, if implemented, are problematic from a human rights and rule of perspective and undermines the UK’s role as a strong defender of human rights in the global arena and a champion of the international rule of law.

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.

Colombia Study Visit

Professor Hamber was named on the application entitled “Transformative Memory: Strengthening an International Network” led by Dr Baines Professor and Dr Pilar Riaño Alcalá from the University of British Colombia and funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. The project seeks to create an international network of scholars, artists and community-based memory workers to co-create and exchange knowledge and practice on the ways memory is employed to address the responsibility people have towards the well-being and rights of others in the aftermaths of mass violence. Current partners are from Canada, Colombia, Indonesia, Uganda, Peru, Northern Ireland and the United States. The network, called the Transformative Memory Partnership, has now been launched.

In February 2020, Professor Hamber, the Hume O’Neill Chair, accompanied the project participants from Uganda, Colombia, Canada, and Indonesia on a study visit and exchange to Colombia. Hosted by the National University of Colombia in collaboration with the Communications Colective Montes de Maria, the University of Los Andes and Erika Diettes’ studio, the Colombian Exchange. Participants came from Colombia, Indonesia, Canada, Northern Uganda, The United States and Northern Ireland participated (list of participants).

Participants in the first day of Exchange in the city of Bogotá, Colombia. Photo credit: Fernanda dos Santos.

The visit (full chronicle of the visit here) focused on lessons about how memory work is undertaken in conflict and post-conflict settings, and include time in Bogota but also in the Montes De Maria a rural part of Colombia deeply affected by the conflict. A range of information sharing and learning exchanges took place, including visits and sharing to conflict-related museums, as well as exchanges with local communities (e.g. exchanges in San Basilio de Palenque, the first free Black town of the Americas to discuss indigenous experiences of conflict; and also visits to El Salado and meeting local communities impacted upon by massacres). There was, among others, also exchanges with representatives (magistrates, commissioners and coordinators) from the three organisations of the Integral Transitional Justice System; The Special Jurisdiction for Peace (JEP); the Truth Commission, and the Unit to Search for the Disappeared.

Book launch: Family Betrayals

The Chair facilitated a discussion with Dr Wilhelm Verwoerd at the Belfast launch of “Verwoerd: My Journey through Family Betrayals” on 17 October 2019. The discussion focused on key aspects of the book, and particularly Dr Verwoerd’s challenges of coming to terms with the fact that HF Verwoerd, his grandfather, was the South African Prime Minister who is widely considered the architect of the apartheid system. Topics for discussion included key questions of the responsibilities of those who benefitted from the apartheid system, the question of “betrayal” when you take a different path to peacebuilding from those around you, as well as the relevance of the book to wider contexts.

Sharing Lessons, Racism & Conflict

On 9 August 2019, the Chair hosted two guests from Detroit on the Magee Campus who were visiting with the Derry Model Project. The two esteemed guests were Dr. Charles Simmons and Reverend Simmons the founders and directors of The Hush House Black Community Museum and Leadership Training Institute for Human Rights. A fascinating discussion was hosted where the Chair, Professor Elizabeth Crooke and Dr Philip McDermott (Ulster University) all gave inputs, and then the group shared experiences on using museums, memory and heritage to build human rights.

Technology for Human Rights

nihrfAs part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival, join Amnesty International and the Innovative Peace Lab (InPeaceLab) a partnership of the Nerve Centre and Transformative Connections (and international partners) for an innovative and interactive session exploring how technology can be used to boost human rights research and campaigning at home and abroad.

Speakers will include:

  • Patrick Corrigan – Amnesty International NI
  • Brandon Hamber – INCORE and Innovative Peace Lab
  • John Peto – Nerve Centre and and Innovative Peace Lab

Details: 6 December, 1pm. BA-02-004, Ulster University, York Street

For more information and to book click here.