Mental health workers and conflict resolution experts from around the globe are meeting at the University of Ulster's Belfast campus this week to explore new ways of addressing the legacy of violent political conflict.
Six leading authorities from around the world are taking part in the three-day event which is one of the major building blocks in a Canadian-funded seven-country research project that will be completed next year.
The event, in the form of an international workshop, has been jointly organised by INCORE, the University's conflict research institute based at the Magee campus, and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), of Canada. It is focusing on 'Trauma, Development and Peacebuilding: Towards an Integrated Psychosocial Approach'.
Magee-based Professor Brandon Hamber, who is Director of INCORE and lead investigator, said:
"The overall objective of the project is, through a range of international case studies, to increase knowledge and capacity concerning the research and practice of psychological and social interventions aimed at addressing the trauma of political violence."
The central thrust of the workshop is a wide-ranging discussion and scrutiny of research findings from the project, which covers several countries including Guatemala, Israel/Palestine, Kashmir, Mozambique, Northern Ireland, South Africa and Sri Lanka.
The workshop has been organised by Professor Hamber and Dr Elizabeth Gallagher, who is a research associate at INCORE.
The organisers say the workshop is enabling participants to learn from practical examples of how psychosocial approaches have been applied to trauma, peacebuilding and development in a number of international contexts. In that way they will be able to determine what common lessons may be positively applied in a variety of conflict zones.
Professor Hamber said;
"The impact of political violence remains a pressing issue to be dealt with in Northern Ireland and around the globe. This project seeks to better understand how interventions to address this can not only assist individuals but promote positive social and political change. The case studies are reviewing projects aimed at dealing with such trauma from around the globe gleaning best practice and effective policy approaches."