Thursday, December 8, 2016

New PhD Scholarships

I am delighted to be involved in this new scheme. Ulster University has announced the launch of a new Doctoral Training Partnership (DTP) for social sciences funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC). This DTP will focus on the provision of exceptional PG social sciences training producing world-class research across the full range of social science disciplines. The closing date for receipt of completed applications is 16 January 2017 (5.00 pm). Interviews will be held late January/Early February 2017.
For more information, click here.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Technology for Human Rights


As part of the Northern Ireland Human Rights Festival, join Amnesty International and the Innovative Peace Lab (InPeaceLab) a partnership of the Nerve Centre and Transformative Connections (and international partners) for an innovative and interactive session exploring how technology can be used to boost human rights research and campaigning at home and abroad.

Speakers will include:
  • Patrick Corrigan - Amnesty International NI
  • Brandon Hamber - INCORE and Innovative Peace Lab
  • John Peto - Nerve Centre and and Innovative Peace Lab


Details: 6 December, 1pm. BA-02-004, Ulster University, York Street

For more information and to book click here.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Can peace in Northern Ireland be model for Colombia?

As part of his recent state visit to the UK, President Juan Manuel Santos of Colombia made a stopover in Belfast. The visit, which was planned for several months, took on a new significance given the October "No" vote in a referendum to endorse the peace agreement between the Colombian government and Farc.

President Santos has routinely noted that Northern Ireland is a "reminder of what is possible" and various delegations of politicians, civil society, academia and business from Northern Ireland have interacted with the peace process in Colombia over the years. It is clear from the visit that President Santos is seeking an international mandate to continue to garner support for a perhaps revised agreement, as well as to get more funds from the UK government to support aspects of the peace process. Northern Ireland offers the president an opportunity to show that peace and compromise can work in terms of political co-operation even if aspects of the peace process remain unfinished. For example, proposals for dealing with the past have still not been agreed 18 years after formal agreement.

But being in Northern Ireland will also present challenges for President Santos on the home front. Although the international community have been helpful in the peace process, some of those who supported the "No" campaign have criticised the president for being overly focused on the international community and his standing, rather than listening to how many Colombians feel. The peace process has become about presidential politics and not genuine social engagement, some would say. The transformation of some former combatants from guerrillas into formal politicians, a key part of the failed agreement, also remains a contentious point in Colombia and one the "No" campaign exploited.

For those who oppose President Santos's political perspective and approach to peace in Colombia, the Northern Ireland process might not be seen as a rosy example. There is a sizeable amount of the Colombian population who still see any involvement of former combatants in government as problematic. The president is walking a tightrope between maintaining international standing and support, winning over more people to his position which includes the need for compromise with the Farc, and keeping the Farc on board. The latter remains a growing challenge as proposal from those opposing the agreement seem to be focused on limiting Farc's rights (eg to participate freely in so-called normal politics). The road ahead will indeed be bumpy.

On the positive side, it seems that most agree that a political agreement is needed to end the 50-year-old war. Colombians however clearly differ in the ways they think this should be achieved. Northern Ireland has balanced this position for years, and in that sense is a comparative case study to be taken seriously. It also highlights that peace is never a done deal, and that building peace, as obvious as it sounds, is always a process that requires constant attention and nurturing. This is as true for Colombia as Northern Ireland where distrust, separation and a legacy of violence continue to impact on how the future might look.

Published by Professor Brandon Hamber,  John Hume and Thomas P O'Neill Chair in Peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute at Ulster University, Irish News, 7 November 2016. 

The original article is available hereIrish News, 7 November 2016. 

Friday, November 4, 2016

Interview on Colombian President Visit to Belfast

Juan Manuel Santos, Colombian President, has been undertaking a state visit to the UK As part of the visit he visited Belfast on 3 November.  President Santos met with First Minister Arlene Foster and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness. He also attended an InvestNI civic lunch at the Titanic Centre and then visited the Girdwood Community Hub. I was offered the opportunity to attend the Girdwood event, however, due to prior commitments with a visiting delegation from Georgia could not attend.  However, I was interviewed with Professor Mallinder by BBC Radio Ulster about the visit to Northern Ireland. Listen to the interview below.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Learning lessons from the Ebola crisis

Fantastic to see my old friend and colleague from Sierra Leone, John Caulker, recently in Belfast. He spoke at an INCORE seminar on the topic of “Sustainable Peace in Post Ebola Sierra Leone”. He explained how community networks that the project John established called Fambul Tok (“Family Talk”) were used to help building community resilience in the face of the virus. Fambul Tok focuses on the  legacy of war and particularly on sharing stories about the past often from perpetrators of violence. John outlined how the community solidarity they built through that reconciliation project became instrumental in combating misperceptions and changing behaviour around Ebola. They are now looking to roll out a wider process of networks since the end of the epidemic. John was also critical of the international community who treated the epidemic as solely a medical problem failing to see that engagement of communities was needed to stop it and that communities also had to deal with the problems Ebola caused (inter-community tensions and stigma). In post-Ebola Sierra Leone problems still prevail in that funding support is for “Ebola victims” which singles people out rather than support whole communities. John believes that any interventions should be community-centric and he has proven the value of this in Fambul Tok.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Thoughts of Chris Matthews in Donegal


I had the pleasure of attending the 2016 Tip O’Neill Irish Diaspora Award in Buncrana, Co Donegal on 23 September 2016. The award, which was the 5th award so far, was given to Chris Matthews. Matthews is an American political commentator and most well known for his talk show “Hardball” on MSNBC. He also served as Press Secretary to Thomas P. “Tip” O’Neill. At the event Matthews took to the opportunity to reflect on the current political situation in the US. He felt what was going on right now was “crazy”. There is a tension between Trump’s “nasty politics” and Trump selling people an unrealisable dream of “manufacturing in 1950s”, compared to Hilary Clinton as an experienced politician but being painted as “the establishment”. He also noted that when he worked with Tip O’Neill he focused on letting people “know who you are” and in O’Neill’s case that meant people could support him as his values were made more prominent. Matthews also reflected on O’Neill’s political style noting that he understood that debate was a way of moving politics forward, and that today people have forgotten this thinking debate is politics. When the debate is done compromises have to be made and the work done Matthews noted. He ended by saying that his “crystal ball is a bit foggy” about who would win the US election, but if African Americans, Hispanics and women vote, Trump will lose. But we will have to wait and see...

Monday, September 19, 2016

How can technology build peace?

Very excited to be part of the Unusual Suspects Festival taking part in Northern Ireland.


  • Wednesday, 12th October 2016 at 2:00pm to 4:00pm
  • The Nerve Centre at 7-8 Magazine Street Derry BT48 6HJ 

How can technology help develop connections between people and places? What’s the role of digital platforms in divided societies? Join us for an innovative and interactive session exploring how technology can be used to boost and create peacebuilding, or #PeaceTech.

 Speakers include #PeaceTech innovators:

  • Melissa Mbugua, the Innovation Engagement Officer from Ushahidi, the Kenyan crowdmapping platform that’s been used in Kenya after the election violence in 2008, Syria and across the world. 
  • Jen Gaskel, the co-founder of the Build Peace international conference, which aims to explore technologies as a means of enhancing the impact of peacebuilding initiatives, as well as bringing together local and international thought-leader and activists to re-think approaches 
  • Brandon Hamber, the John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University, which through a combination of research, education and comparative analysis, addresses the causes and consequences of conflict in Northern Ireland and internationally. They also aim to promote conflict resolution management strategies.
  • Enda Young, the co-founder, of Transformative Connections, which focuses on the role technology in promoting peacebuilding and positive social change. Their mission is to create and support real and lasting connections between people and practice.

The Innovation Peace Labs, a new initiative created by the Ulster University, will host the session, alongside the Nerve Centre, Transformative Connections and other international partners.

To register click here.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Handbook: “Transforming War Related Identities”



It has been a great privilege for to write the lead article for the Berghof Handbook Dialogue series entitled “Transforming War Related Identities”

The series explores the question of how individuals and collectives can come to terms with war memories or trauma after mass atrocities is crucial for framing post-war relationships. But how do the processes on different levels (individual and collective) and diverse dimensions of identity formation relate to each other? How to deal with trans-generational legacies of violence? How can the needs of the victims be served in an appropriate way, and how to address “cultures of victimhood” that stem from past violence?

These questions are discussed by scholars and practitioners, peace activists, psychologists and social scientists in Berghof Handbook Dialogue 11 (ed. by Beatrix Austin & Martina Fischer).

The following contributions are available on our website:
My contribution  analyses diverse approaches for dealing with painful memories and discusses how different dimensions (interpersonal and intergroup relations, individual and collective memories and identities) relate to one another. The chapter builds on experiences from South Africa and Northern Ireland, where Hamber chairs the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) at Ulster University. We asked scholar-practitioners from other contexts to comment on his thoughts. Olivera Simic (Griffith University, Brisbane) and David Becker (Free University, Berlin) focus on working with trauma and reflect on experiences in coping with painful memories in the Balkans. Andrea Zemskov-Züge (Berghof Foundation) brings in examples from the Caucasus (Georgia/Abkhazia) and Undine Whande’s text makes reference to South Africa and to experiences from Germany in dealing with the legacies of the second world war.

You can also purchase the hard copy from Berghof and it includes my response to the above articles, visit here.

This Handbook Dialogue is dedicated to Dan Bar-On, who spent most of his life reflecting on practical approaches for dealing with the past and exploring how people whose lives and identities have been shattered by violence come to live a decent life again.

Thursday, July 21, 2016

Dealing with the Past Course for Professionals

Schloss Münchweiler in Switzerland the venue for the training
It was great in July to team up once again with Alistair Little (Beyond Walls) to teach on the The Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs (FDFA) and swisspeace course entitled Dealing with the Past Advanced Learning Course for Professionals.

The course according to the organisers addresses a range of topics which are central to the development of a holistic approach to Dealing with the Past (DwP) and to the implementation of relevant mechanisms for dealing with prior and on-going grave human rights violations. Special attention is paid to case studies, to a gender based approach, to the need to integrate dealing with the past in the negotiation of peace agreements, as well as in the post conflict efforts.

In 2016 the course took place in Switzerland, 5 - 13 July 2016. Alistair and I taught a two day session on dealing with victim-perpetrator issues in post-conflict societies, reconciliation and dealing with the past.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Documentation, Human Rights and Transitional Justice



Special Issue of Human Rights Practice (2016, 8, 1) now out focusing on "Documentation, Human Rights and Transitional Justice".

Edited by Elisabeth Baumgartner (swisspeace), Brandon Hamber (INCORE), Briony Jones (swisspeace), Gráinne Kelly (INCORE), and Ingrid Oliveira (swisspeace).

The Special Edition can be viewed here:

Articles

  • Documentation, Human Rights and Transitional Justice by Elisabeth Baumgartner, Brandon Hamber, Briony Jones, Gráinne Kelly, and Ingrid Oliveira
  • Truth Commission Archives as ‘New Democratic Spaces’ by Briony Jones and Ingrid Oliveira
  • Practice, Power and Inertia: Personal Narrative, Archives and Dealing with the Past in Northern Ireland by Brandon Hamber and Gráinne Kelly (email for a copy)
  • The Archive as Confessional: The Role of Video Testimony in Understanding and Remorse by Juliet Brough Rogers
  • Arrested Truth: Transitional Justice and the Politics of Remembrance in Kosovo by Gëzim Visoka
  • Truth, Evidence, Truth: The Deployment of Testimony, Archives and Technical Data in Domestic Human Rights Trials by Daniela Accatino and Cath Collins
  • Tensions in UN Information Management: Security, Data and Human Rights Monitoring in Darfur, Sudan by Róisín Read

Policy and Practice Note

  • Official Victims’ Registries: A Tool for the Recognition of Human Rights Violations by Jairo Rivas

Monday, June 6, 2016

Visit to Northern Uganda

I had an incredible trip to Uganda in late May and early June at the invitation of the Refugee Law Project. In May the Chair travelled to Uganda. I primarily participated in The Institute for African Transitional Justice (IATJ) an annual event established in 2010, by the Refugee Law Project (RLP) with financial support by the Democratic Governance Facility (DGF).

The event aims at bringing together African practitioners and researchers to enhance practice and theory on the continent. Some 7 participants, from ten different countries, including Spain, England, Northern Ireland, Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Zimbabwe, Germany, United States of America and host country Uganda attended.

I gave the keynote address at the conference which focused on theme "Too little too late - or too much too soon?- The Time and Timing of Transitional Justice”. The 6th IATJ was held in Gulu from 29th May to 3rd June 2016, and it was fantastic to be in Gulu and see the developments that have taken place. The event provided an important opportunity to better understand the long-term aftermath of the war that ostensibly ended in 2008.

On visiting some local communities in Northern Uganda it was clear that the issue of dealing with the disappeared, memories of the conflict and displacement, the consequences of physical and community destruction of resources, ongoing distrust of the current government to support local communities, and inter-community trust remain key issues.

Most impressive was the local mourning rituals that have been developed around dealing with the disappeared, work with male victims of sexual violence and also the Refugee Law Projects work in the new The National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre (NMPDC).

I hope to continue to work with groups and individuals in developing work in Uganda in the coming years. 

Hut for the disappeared
Planting a tree for the disappeared
Memories inside the hut
The National Memory and Peace Documentation Centre (NMPDC) 
Exhibit in NMDPC


SaveSave

Monday, April 25, 2016

John J Sweeney Scholarship at Ulster University

I am very proud to have been involved in the efforts of Ulster University and AFL/CIO in the establishment The John J Sweeney Scholarship. The John J Sweeney Scholarship at Ulster University’s International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) is now open for applications for our MSc Applied Peace and Conflict Studies programme. The deadline for applications is 31 May 2016, midnight. This is the second year of this scholarship which is supported by the AFL-CIO.

For more details click here.

Ulster University presents the INCORE Global Peace and Social Justice to AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J Sweeney, Washington, July 2014. L-R: Professor Brandon Hamber, Director of INCORE, Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Hugh McKenna, AFL-CIO President Emeritus John J Sweeney, Eddie Friel, Director of Development and Alumni Relations Ulster University

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Building the Future: Victim and Survivor Issues in Context

The Commission for Victims and Survivors in Northern Ireland hosted 2 Day Conference on Review of the Victims and Survivors Strategy 2009-19. The event took place at Titanic Belfast. 
The Commission invited victims groups, individuals, statutory bodies, organisations and other key stakeholders to time to reflect on how far we have come and to identify priorities for the victims and survivors in the coming years. 
At the conference I presented a short paper entitled "Building the Future: Victim and Survivor Issues in Context". To download my paper click the link below.
Hamber, B. (2015). Building the Future: Victim and Survivor Issues in Context. Paper presented at the Review of the Victims and Survivors Strategy 2009-2019 Conference, Annual Conference, Commission for Victims and Survivors Titanic Belfast, 9-10 March 2016.
Further information, including pictures, videos and supporting information can be found here.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Engendering Transitional Justice: Silence, Absence & Repair

This special issue of Human Rights Review edited by Olivera Simic grew out of a two-day symposium held in Coolangatta, Australia, in November 2014, organised by the Socio-Legal Centre, Griffith Law School, Griffith University, Australia. As Simic writes "The symposium brought together experts concerned with transitional justice studies to consider new ways in which gender needs be rethought and perhaps reinterpreted, in the context of societies that deal with massive human rights abuse. The symposium was an intense and close engagement, where scholars from the fields of human rights, transitional justice, anthropology, psychology, and peace and conflict studies presented their work and received constructive feedback from their colleagues. Five papers that were part of the symposium proceedings are featured in this special issue, covering a broad spectrum of interrelated topics, and highlighting debates in the field of transitional justice that are often overlooked and underdeveloped in the literature. In accordance with the theme of the symposium, the articles in this special issue are unified by the topic of ‘Engendering Transitional Justice’ and the crosscutting themes of ‘Silence, Absence and Repair’".

  • Editor Note: Engendering Transitional Justice: Silence, Absence and Repair (Olivera Simic)
  • There Is a Crack in Everything: Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice (Brandon Hamber)
  • Gendered Narratives: Stories and Silences in Transitional Justice (Elisabeth Porter)
  • After the Truth Commission: Gender and Citizenship in Timor-Leste (Lia Kent)
  • Engendering Transitional Justice: a Transformative Approach to Building Peace and Attaining Human Rights for Women (Wendy Lambourne, Vivianna Rodriguez Carreon)
  • Feminist Research in Transitional Justice Studies: Navigating Silences and Disruptions in the Field (Olivera Simic)

Download or view the Special Issue

Monday, February 8, 2016

Masculinites, Violence & Post Conflict

Prof Brandon Hamber gives the closing remarks at the postgraduate conference on Masculinities, Violence and Post Conflict, 14 January 2016, Ulster University. The conference was organised by PhD students in TJI, INCORE and IRISS, and supported by International Alert, Conciliation Resources, Saferworld, and the Political Settlements Research Programme.

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Problematising Masculinities, Peacebuilding and Transitional Justice

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

The study of masculinity, particularly in peacebuilding and transitional justice contexts, is gradually emerging. 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.

Click here for more details.

Monday, January 11, 2016

Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation

Speaking at the Sigmund Freud University in Berlin on 12 January 2016 at 7pm.

My topic "Ambivalence as a goal of reconciliation".  This is very much a core theme of my book "Transforming Societies After Political Violence: Truth, Reconciliation and Mental Health".

Venue is Sigmund Freud PrivatUniversität, Campus Tempelhof, Berlin.

For more details visit click here.