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).
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.
In 2017 Interpeace and the Kofi Annan Foundation launched a joint project on reconciliation that aims to contribute to the current debates on reconciliation by identifying innovations and lessons that can inspire national and international actors engaged or willing to engage in reconciliation efforts, as well as shedding light on how such efforts can best be supported by international actors. Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly were contracted by the Kofi Annan Foundation to write a case study for the large research project, as well as contribute to a high-level symposium convened by Mr Kofi Annan aimed at capturing lessons on experiences of reconciliation and provide guidelines on how to design and implement reconciliation processes. Over 2017 Professor Hamber and Grainne Kelly worked on research to inform their report (high level interviews with policymakers). A draft Northern Ireland case study was submitted to the Kofi Annan Foundation in the summer of 2017 and then presented to a high-level symposium in October 2017 in Bogota, Colombia. Kofi Annan opened the symposium on reconciliation in Bogota, Colombia. Grainne Kelly presented her and Brandon Hamber’s research on reconciliation and its challenges in Northern Ireland. You can see more about the event here: http://www.kofiannanfoundation.org/building-lasting-peace/reconciliation-symposium/
In early September the Chair, Professor Brandon Hamber, undertook a visit to Colombia (17-24 September 2015).
At the time, the Colombian government and Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (Farc) were in the midst of negotiations to end a conflict that has spanned some 50 years.
The conflict has seen the death of some 250,000 people (80% civilians) and the displacement of 6.5 million people. Formal talks began in November 2012 in the Cuban capital, Havana. Several accords have been reached and the final agreement is set to be signed in 2016.
Professor Hamber was invited to Colombia at the request of the City of Valledupar, one of the cities (some 1.5 hours north east of Bogota by plane) that was most affected by conflict. Under the leadership of Mayor Fredys Miguel Socarras Reales, a series of conferences, presentations, and workshops is being organized, which will focus on preparing the regional implementation of the peace.
Professor Hamber addressed a range of community members (about 150-200) over a two-day process to discuss comparative peace lessons at a community level. He also met with the Mayor. After the community engagements he spent some days in Bogota meeting some key players in the peace process and sharing lessons with them and different civil society members.
The trip ended with a presentation to about 200-300 training lawyers at Libre University in Bogotá as part of conference on Reconciliation, Civil Law and Commissions. Again the focus was on comparative lessons from Northern Ireland.