Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Beyond Intragroup Betrayal: New Article

Continuing our work on the issue of betrayal in peacebuilding Wilhem Verwoerd, Alistair Little and Brandon Hamber have published a new article.

The article was published in the Peacebuilding journal entitled "Beyond intragroup betrayal during intergroup relational peacebuilding". 

You can download the article here, open access.

This article addresses a neglected human cost of relational peacebuilding, identified in an earlier article on ‘peace as betrayal’. The focus here is how relational peacebuilders can respond to painful accusations of betrayal by family-type group members evoked by working with the ‘other side’. Continuing to draw on the reflections of experienced peace practitioners from South Africa, the Israel-Palestine region and the conflict in and about Northern Ireland, a contrasting distinction is made between two routes: a ‘clarification’ route that explains why working with ‘them’ is not a betrayal of ‘us’ vs a ‘counter-critique’ response that attempts to turn the traitor tables on the accusers. An evaluative discussion of the counter-critique route explores the pitfalls of political abuse, avoidance of shared responsibility and underestimating ‘thin’ relations (Margalit), as well as the complementary potential of the clarification and the counter-critique routes beyond peace as betrayal.

Friday, October 6, 2023

Victim Mobilisation: An antidote to denialism, a route to new relationships?

Hamber, B. (2023). “Victim Mobilisation: An antidote to denialism, a route to new relationships?” at the Conference on Intergroup Relations After Violent Conflict: Insights from Research and Practice. The conference was held at The Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, Harvard University on 5-6 October 2023.

Monday, November 14, 2022

Youth, Peace and Security: Fostering local and global exchange

by Brandon Hamber and Eliz McArdle

In December 2015, the United Nations Security Council adopted Resolution 2250 a landmark resolution recognising young people’s positive role in conflict and post-conflict settings. The UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres commissioned a global study on youth and peacebuilding entitled “The Missing Peace” authored by Graeme Simpson, which was presented to the Security Council and then the UN General Assembly in 20181. The report calls for a move away from a deficit model that sees young people as a threat to security. A key message is the importance of recognising and supporting young people as positive contributors to peace. Building on this report, the UN has continued to promote a Youth, Peace and Security (YPS) agenda.

As a contribution to the YPS agenda, the Ulster University authors of this article initiated the Youth, Peace and Security Leadership Series with partners The John and Pat Hume Foundation, the International Fund for Ireland (IFI), and the global peacebuilding organisation Interpeace. The main aim behind the series is to connect Northern Ireland youth work with the global YPS agenda. The specific objectives are to raise the visibility of the role that young people can and do play in peacebuilding and to build local capacities in terms of YPS and leadership.

Launched in March 2021, four public seminars have taken place so far, with 620 attendees across the events. The series has featured young leaders as speakers from Northern Ireland, Libya, Somalia, former Yugoslavia and Sri Lanka (seminars on YouTube). Graeme Simpson, author of the “The Missing Peace” Report, played a crucial role in identifying the international youth leaders who emerged during the report’s development.

Although the seminar turnout has been heartening, awareness-raising alone is limited as it requires those in positions of power to listen and take young people’s work seriously. For this reason, the seminar series has also utilised a capacity-building component using closed facilitated dialogue between youth workers and local and global peer leaders. The seminar series has effectively coupled the public online seminars with private dialogue sessions.

However, meaningful engagement with and between young people requires time and investment. Before the private dialogues, we worked with individual young leaders to help them plan and prepare to meet other local and global young leaders, focusing on the specific seminar themes (e.g. women and Peacebuilding, methods of youth work). Once ready for the private session, a closed meeting between young people from Northern Ireland and border counties and the global peacebuilders took place.

IFI helped select young people for these private sessions through their various projects. Young people joined from IFI-funded groups, including Cliftonville Community Regeneration Forum (CCRF), Limestone United, the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland and Focus Family Resource Centre.

While there was some initial anxiety about being in the spotlight with adult spectators watching, a curated, private and facilitated approach helped to mitigate any concerns and gave space for the participants to voice their opinions. This approach resulted in a rich discussion and helped identify issues that could be taken to the public seminars.

One of the most notable of these private sessions was with the UN Secretary General’s Envoy on Youth, Jayathma Wickramanayake, who met with 23 young people online for a private session before the public seminar. Prior to meeting the UN Envoy, young people in Northern Ireland and border counties explored the theme of the role of youth in peacebuilding.

In the private session, participants shared perspectives on the leadership acts and actions they undertake and their visions for peace. The UN Envoy helped link their work and the global YPS agenda. The meeting was valuable in discussing strategies for addressing YPS issues and local youth workers and participants said that they felt affirmed by being listened to by the UN Secretary General’s Youth Envoy. The participants then took this learning into the public seminar that followed.

Overall, a considered dialogue ensued in all the private sessions and public events. Global and local considerations were interwoven with a respectful listening and sharing tone. The presence of outsiders with different perspectives was valuable. There is little doubt that the eminence of the global young peacebuilders was important for the local young people. Activism was stimulated by interacting with international YPS advocates.

This type of international sharing was the hallmark of many earlier programmes during the peace process in Northern Ireland and Ireland but has decreased in the last few years. The experience of the YPS Seminar Series suggests it is vital to support this type of work. Northern Ireland and Ireland has much to share and gain from being more centrally keyed into global processes such as the YPS agenda.

This article was first published in Fund Focus, The Newsletter of the International Fund for Ireland, September 2022.

Professor Brandon Hamber is John Hume and Thomas P. O’Neill Chair in Peace based at the International Conflict Research Institute (INCORE) and the Transitional Justice Institute, Ulster University.

Eliz McArdle is a Lecturer in Community Youth Work at Ulster University and Course Director for the Certificate in Youth Studies with franchised partner, YouthAction Northern Ireland. She is member of the Centre for Youth Research and Dialogue at Ulster University.

Friday, August 5, 2022

The Problem with Men? The Challenge of Violent Masculinities in a Changing World

On 5 August 2022, I 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.

The Problem with Men? The Challenge of Violent Masculinities in a Changing World

Hamber, B. (2022). The Problem with Men? The Challenge of Violent Masculinities in a Changing World. PJ McGrory Public Lecture. St Mary’s College, Belfast, Féile an Phobail, 5 August 2022.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

Localising Memory and Reinventing the Present

Hamber, B. (2022). Epilogue: Localising memory and reinventing the present, Chapter 10. In Mina Rauschenbach, Julia Viebach, and Stephan Parmentier (Eds). Localising Memory in Transitional Justice: The Dynamics and Informal Practices of Memorialisation after Mass Violence and Dictatorship. Routledge: Abingdon, Oxon and New York, pp. 261-268. More information.