Youth Visions for Peace

On 29 March 2022, the Chair – with partners The John and Pat Hume Foundation, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace – hosted “Visions for Peace – Perspectives on Local and Global Youth Practice”.

Speakers addressed the questions: How do we engage young people in peacebuilding? What vision do our young people hold for a peaceful society? How does that influence what we prioritize when doing this work?

The event was Chaired by Professor Hamber with the following speakers:

Andy Hamilton is currently a Research Associate at Ulster University. He recently completed his PhD study titled Theorising Youth Sector Peacebuilding in Northern Ireland.

Eliška Jelínková is a Co-Director at the United Network of Young Peacebuilders and a co-chair of the Global Coalition on Youth Peace and Security.

Ali Altiok is a doctoral student in Peace Studies and Political Science at the University of Notre Dame. His research examines political inclusion and securitization of young people in the context of peacebuilding processes.

The seminar series is a partnership between Ulster University (INCORE, the Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue & TJI), The John and Pat Hume Foundation, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and Interpeace.

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.

Book Launch: Competing Worldviews

The Chair, with the Transitional Justice Institute and INCORE, hosted a successful book launch of “Reconciliation and Building a Sustainable Peace: Competing Worldviews in South Africa and Beyond” by Dr Cathy Bollaert. The book, based on her PhD research at Ulster University (co-supervised by Brandon Hamber, Kris Brown and Fionnuala D. Ní Aoláin), explores how competing worldviews impact on intergroup relations and building a sustainable peace in culturally diverse societies. It raises the question of what happens in a culturally diverse society when competing values and ways of interpreting reality collide and what this means for peace-building and the goal of reconciliation.

Resilience to Conflict: Sierra Leone

Professor Hamber with partners Fambul Tok (Sierra Leone), Catalyst for Peace (US), Refugee Law Project (Uganda), Green String Network (Kenya), and the Research and Advocacy Unit and African University (Zimbabwe) secured a seed grant to develop a Global Challenges Research Fund project to bring together partners to consider: “What are the internal-external framework and relationships that genuinely, in practice, support the creation of resilient communities facing ongoing and dynamic peace and development challenges, and how can communities, local organisations and international donors help to grow these?”.  A large inter-country meeting took place in Freetown in 22-26 January 2018. A range of new initiatives will now flow from the meeting including joint research and proposals.

Participants from Uganda, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Zimbabwe, US, Netherlands and Northern Ireland in Sierra Leone.

Professor Erin Baines Visits Belfast

In December 2017 Professor Erin Baines, Associate Professor at the School of Public Policy and Global Affairs (SPPGA) at the University of British Columbia, visited Belfast to explore ongoing partnerships and also engage with Ulster University MSc, LLM and PhD students. Professor Baines offered two classes on focusing on her work in Uganda entitled “Children & Futurities” and a second research focused workshop entitled “De-colonial approaches to research on violence”. Wider than this Profess Hamber and Professor Baines outlined some future plans for joint co-operation and research.

Professor Erin Baines visiting Belfast.

Reconciliation in Northern Ireland

Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly continued to work on the concept of reconciliation. In 2017 they spoke at two high-level events in Northern Ireland. The first with The Executive Office and staff as they consider the role of reconciliation in the draft Programme for Government and Together: Building a United Community (TBUC). They participants and delivered the keynote address at a further seminar at the “Together: Building a United Community Engagement Forum” on 15 June 2017, with the Executive Office (TEO) and over 160 community practitioners, policymakers and academics that took place at the Girdwood Community Hub.

Refugee Law Project Summer Institute

In Mid-May 2017 Professor Hamber visited Uganda again as part of the Summer Institute focusing on “Men’s and Women’s Relations in Coercive Settings” (17-19 May 2017) hosted by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) and in War Partnership (CSiW). As part of the event Professor Hamber participated in a 2-day long workshops run by RLP and partners with men who were former combatants/abducted during the Northern Uganda war to learn from their experiences. The second part of the event was a more open conference focusing on women’s and men’s experiences of forced relationships in wartime.

Some of the staff from the Refugee Law Project at the closing ceremony.