Fire in the Belly

Seminar featuring voices from Northern Ireland, Libya and Somalia will honour Pat Hume’s legacy  

Pat Hume who was recently described by Monica Mc Williams ‘as the woman who never gave up’ is the inspiration behind Fire in the Belly, the third event planned in the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series.  

On Friday 1 October 2021, Monica Mc Williams who is Emeritus Professor at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and former Chairperson of Interpeace, will chair Fire in the Belly, featuring speakers from Libya, Somalia and Northern Ireland.   

Tim Attwood, Secretary of the John & Pat Hume Foundation, said:   

“It is important to acknowledge and highlight the positive work of young women and men working on peace at home and globally. The late Pat Hume had to scale so many obstacles working for peaceful change during times of great personal and political risk. She was described as ‘the woman who never gave up’. We must inspire a new leadership of young people in peacebuilding who will also never give up.”  

About Fire in the Belly:   

Fire in the Belly will feature lessons from young women peacebuilders from Somalia, Libya and Northern Ireland on inspiring leaders for peaceful change. It takes place online on Friday 1 October 2021 at 3:30pm and is free of charge and everyone with an interest is welcome to join.   

Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace at Ulster University, said  

“A core focus of the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in peace is to support the next generation of peacebuilders. I can think of no better way to do this than exchange practical lessons between young women peacebuilders form around the globe. They have much to share and teach all of us.”  


  • Monica McWilliams is Emeritus Professor of Women’s Studies at the Transitional Justice Institute at Ulster University, Board member of the John and Pat Hume Foundation and a former Chairperson of Interpeace. She will Chair the session.
  • Hajer Sharief is a Libyan peace and human rights activist. She co-leads the work of the Together We Build It (TWBI) organization in Libya.
  • Ilwad Elman is a young female leader at the forefront of the Somali peace process. She co-founded the Elman Peace Centre and is an Advocate for the Kofi Annan Foundation.
  • Emma Johnston is a youth worker in NI, working with Youth Action Northern Ireland. She is a representative on Northern Ireland Women’s European Platform, the UK Joint Committee for women and the Irish NAP For Women Peace and Security.

About the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series:  

This is the third seminar in the new Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Seminar Series explores the positive contribution of youth to peace. Every 6-8 weeks, a free online platform is created for young leaders to share their experience from around the world.   

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

The seminar series sees young people from Northern Ireland enter conversation with leading international figures in youth work and peace building. In March 2020, Graeme Simpson, Lead Author for the Progress Study on Youth, Peace and Security mandated by UNSCR 2250 and Director of Interpeace USA launched the Seminar series with a talk entitled The Missing Peace. While in May 2020, Ms. Jayathma Wickramanayake, the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth took part in two sessions with young people in Northern Ireland.   

  • Ahead of the event on Friday, Hajer Sharief, the Libyan peace and human rights activist, said:  

“Peace should be treated as a “public good” of which everyone has the right to build, shape and make. Therefore, the inclusion of women and youth in peace processes is not a matter of ticking a box, it’s a matter of providing people with the opportunity to practice their right to shape their own lives and societies”.  

  • Speaking about the importance of this series, Graeme Simpson, the Principal Representative (NY) & Senior Peacebuilding Adviser at Interpeace, said:   

“The global Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda has recognized that instead of treating young people as a threat, it is imperative to invest in the resilience, resourcefulness, and innovation of young peacebuilders. Interpeace believes that little is more important in amplifying the voices of young peacebuilders themselves, than the powerful leadership of young women, connecting with each other across the globe.”  

“The Youth, Peace and Security Seminar Series frames critical conversations which enable global youth leaders to pool our resources and work collectively with young women to breathe positive energy into their lives.  Young women need role models; women who they can up look to. I am looking forward to coming together to ignite that important fire in the belly.”  

“Fire in the Belly is an excellent opportunity for a wider audience to understand the influential role that women play within peace building. The Youth, Peace and Security Series complements the IFI’s ethos and also enhances our partnerships with other organisations. Engaging young people to offer them the best opportunities in life so they can develop, grow and give back to their own communities is a core focus of our work.”

Fire in the Belly is open to everyone with an interest and free to join.   

It takes place Friday 1 October 2021 at 3:30pm – 5pm. For further information and to be directed to Eventbrite for booking, visit:,-peace-and-security-leadership-series2

Disasters Mental Health Conference

 On 29 September 2021, the Chair gave a keynote address entitled “Individual and Collective Recovery from Human-Caused Disasters: Lessons from Political Violence Around the Globe”. The keynote was delivered to the Institute for Disasters Mental Health Conference which this year had the theme of “From 9/11 to Covid-19, Lessons from Two Decades of Disaster Responses”.

This IDMH conference, hosted by State University of New York (Online), brought together a roster of expert presenters from across the US to review how much has been learned about incorporating mental health needs into emergency response, and to look ahead to where we can. Professor Hamber’s keynote explored lessons from managing political violence for mental health in disaster settings.

Reconciliation with Mpho Tutu

On 17 September 2021 The Chair was invited to participate in the Bridge for the Future Conference. The conference is held by the War Requiem Bridge to the Future Foundation in the Netherlands. At the event The Chair and Mpho Tutu, daughter of Archbishop Tutu, debate the topic of reconciliation.

Justice in Jeopardy

You can now watch online the UTV short documentary “Up Close – Justice in Jeopardy?” which debates the current legacy proposals by the British Government.

Featuring the John Hume and Thomas P.O’Neill Chair in Peace Professor Brandon Hamber, Professor Louise Mallinder, Baroness Nuala O’Loan, Denis Bradley, Lord Richard Dannatt and Alan McBride from the WAVE Trauma Centre.

Watch the UTV Special

Transitional Justice: The ‘Disappeared’

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.

Northern Ireland amnesty?

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 Troubles,Belfast, Northern Ireland 1970–2 Coldstream Guards” by Kaspar C at  CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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.

Read more

Seminar UN Envoy on Youth

The Chair facilitated a session on Thursday 20 May 2021, with the UN Secretary Generals’ Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake. In her talk the UN Envoy on Youth discussed UN priorities and issues concerning youth, peace and security.

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.

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

To review all posts about the series, click Categories, Events and “Youth Leadership Series” on right side bar.