The Problem with Men?

On 5 August 2022, the Chair delivered the PJ McGrory Public Human Rights Lecture as part of the Féile an Phobail.

The lecture discussed masculinity in a global landscape of rising national fervour, armed conflict, gender-based violence, pandemics and endemic inequalities. It explored the link between violent masculinities and inter-personal, community and political violence and instability, while calling for new understandings of masculinities that can disrupt dominant narratives and lead to positive social change.

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

Gender, Truth-telling and Reform

DCAF (Geneva Centre for Security Sector Reform) with UN Women organised a panel discussion on integrating gender into truth-telling to create a platform for institutional reform on 23 July 2020. Seminar is now online.

Panel Members

  • Ibtihel Abdellatif, Chair of the Women’s Committee, Tunisia Truth and Dignity Commission (IVD)
  • Professor Brandon Hamber, John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE), Ulster University
  • Farah Tanis, Executive Director, Black Women’s Blueprint (US), Commissioner BWB Truth Commission USA
  • Yasmin Sooka, Commissioner, UN CoHR on South Sudan and former Truth Commissioner for South Africa TRC, Sierra Leone TRC

Transformative Gender and the SHA

The fourth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Dealing with the Past and the SHA: Is a transformative gender approach possible?” was hosted online on 24 June 2020, with some 60 people joining online.

In the seminar Claire Hackett, Healing Through Remembering & Falls Community Council and Dr Catherine O’Rourke, reflected on the exclusion of women and gender from dominant approaches to dealing with the past in the Stormont House Agreement (SHA). The seminar discussed a specific intervention to remedy these absences and silences, namely the development of Gender Principles for Dealing with the Legacy of the Past by a network of women drawn from academia, the human rights and victims sectors. The seminar further reflected on the opportunity to address gender more broadly in any process to deal with the past, in particular the inclusion of LGBTQ experiences and perspectives. The seminar reflected on some of the reasons why these perspectives have been so absent from the primary debate, and considered possible strategies and approaches for devising a more gender-inclusive process.

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.

Masculinities & UN WPS Agenda

The WPS agenda, as defined by the UN Security Council, has latterly addressed itself more directly to the question of ‘engaging men and boys’.

Professor Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace, reflects on these developments and its significance in an online seminar available now.

Listen to Seminar

This event is part of the WPS@20 seminar hosted by the Ulster University Transitional Justice Institute to mark the upcoming 20th anniversary of the adoption of Resolution 1325 on Women, Peace and Security by the United Nations Security Council.

Women, Peace and Security

Yesterday Professor Hamber attended a meeting of the Women, Peace and Security Oversight Group in Dublin discussing Ireland’s National Action Plan. He spoke on issues of masculinity and inclusion in women, peace and security agenda. The Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Simon Conveney, attended for some of the time [Photos from Irish Foreign Ministry Twitter] #wpsireland

Article: Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice

Recently, the Chair published:

Hamber, Brandon (2015). There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice. Human Rights Review, 1-26.

3This is an important publication as it outlines key tenants of how the issue of  could be dealt with in post-conflict settings, a very under-explored area. The article outlines three fissures evident in the embryonic scholarship, that is the privileging of direct violence and its limited focus, the continuities and discontinuities in militarised violence into peace time, and the tensions between new (less violent) masculinities and wider inclusive social change. The article argues for the importance of making visible the tensions between different masculinities and how masculinities are deeply entangled with systems of power and post-conflict social, political and economic outcomes. An analysis of masculine power within and between the structures aimed at building the peace in societies moving out of violence is considered essential. The article argues for an analysis that moves beyond a preoccupation with preventing violent masculinities from manifesting through the actions of individuals to considering how hidden masculine cultures operate within a variety of hierarchies and social spaces.

Masculinity is now a developing area and the Chair’s work has contributed to this, and Professor Hamber will also attend a conference in Oxford on the issue in October 2016.

The paper can be downloaded here for those with academic access, or alternative email Professor Hamber for a copy.