A dialogue was held on 16 December 2020 hosted by the Truth Commission for Colombia entitled “Let’s talk about coexistence and reconciliation”. This reflexive dialogue focused on the mandate of the Commission to promote coexistence and reconciliation. The dialogue sought to learn from international experience to overcome challenges and help strengthening the work of the Commission and its legacy in Colombia.
The dialogue was an online discussion between panelists which included Professor Hamber. The participants, based on their experiences, responded to guiding questions put forward by the moderator. Participants included Brandon Hamber (Northern Ireland); Sergio Jaramillo (Colombia); John Paul Lederach (USA); Elizabeth Lira (Chile) and Kimberly Theidon (USA, Colombia).
In his input Professor Hamber stressed how despite significant investment in relationship building work in Northern Ireland from the EU, IFI and Atlantic Philanthropies that has strengthened community relationships, opportunities have not always been maximised. This he argued was because community and political processes have been treated separately., Ongoing political division at the leadership level undermines community interventions. In addition, the vision for reconciliation has focused on limited co-existence that accepts social, educational and residential divisions or changing these issue marginally, rather than a more transformative approach. The has created a negative rather than positive peace in Northern Ireland.
The sixth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Memorialization as Truth-Telling: Lessons from the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation” was hosted online on 21 October 2020, 58 people attended.
The seminar was given by Sara Bradshaw, Program Director for Transitional Justice at the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience (ICSC). The seminar discussed the opportunities, challenges and best practices for local-level memorialization efforts to serve as truth-telling initiatives in the absence of formal truth commissions. The seminar used practical examples and case studies from the Global Initiative for Justice, Truth and Reconciliation (GIJTR), a consortium of nine partners led by the International Coalition of Sites of Conscience. Lessons focused on cases in Colombia, Sri Lanka, South Sudan, The Gambia, and other conflict and post-conflict contexts. These explored how community-driven truth-telling initiatives can help ensure that all members of society, particularly marginalized groups such as women and minorities, are able to share their stories and contribute to sustainable peace.
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 fifth seminar in the Dealing with the Past series entitled “Reconciliation and Dealing with the Past: A global perspective” was hosted online on 28 July 2020, 55 people attended.
The seminar was given by Dr Fanie du Toit, Senior Research Fellow and Former Executive Director, Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa & Technical Advisor (Community Dialogue), and part of the In Transformation Initiative, Myanmar. The seminar discussed three prominent conceptual models of reconciliation which have been used internationally as a guiding metaphor for political transition from war or oppression to something “new”. It included references to the South African, Iraqi and Myanmar cases, each of which continue to pose their unique challenges to prevailing theories on reconciliation. The seminar explored the idea of reconciliation as understood as a complex, ever-evolving form of inter-dependence.
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 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.
On 26 to 28 June 2019, the Chair travelled to Geneva at the invitation of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN OHCHR). The Chair was asked to address the concept of reconciliation and how it relates to transitional justice, and human rights. The input took place at the UN in an event entitled “Working Session on Transitional Justice”. The high level meeting included representatives from the UN in a range of their county offices.
On 13 September 2018 the Chair hosted the Truth and Reconciliation Platform in the Great Hall at Magee. The event took the form of survivors of the conflict sharing their stories and experiences with the public. Powerful testimony was given by Joe Campbell, Kathleen Gillespie, Stephen Travers and Alan McBride. The evening was deeply moving and inspirational, and shows why moving forward the peace process is so important.
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/