About the Victims and Survivors Forum
The Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order, 2006, places a duty on the Victims Commission to make arrangements for a forum for consultation and discussion with victims and survivors.
In February, 2009, the Commission convened a series of meetings of a Forum Development Group to help develop initial proposals for a Forum. The Development Group was made up of individual victims/survivors and others active in the victims sector.
Subsequently the Commission produced a detailed plan for the design and development of a forum. A Pilot Forum was convened by the Commission in September 2009 which allowed the Commission to test the Design Plan.
At the end of the Pilot Forum in June 2010, a number of members continued to meet as a Forum Transition Group in order to maintain a Forum-type mechanism until the establishment of a new Forum. Although the Transition Group ended in January, 2011, discussions between the Commission and the civil service regarding the final shape of the Forum went on until early 2012.
The first meeting of the Forum was held on 21st June 2012 in Belfast.
The Forum will sit on a monthly basis for two years until March 2014.
Throughout this period the Forum will have opportunities to engage with individuals, groups and the public across Northern Ireland.
The Forum has 25 members, including two 'Associate Members' who are not victims.
Aims and Objectives of the Forum
The Commission has taken careful note of the OFMDFM Strategy for Victims and Survivors (2009) in designing the Forum. The Strategy envisages the Forum informing the work of the Commission. In this respect, the Commission has determined that it should have the following aims:
- To be a place of consultation and discussion with victims and survivors of the Northern Ireland conflict;
- To provide advice to the Commission for Victims and Survivors.
In pursuit of these aims, the Forum has three objectives, each of which reflects the three key themes of OFMDFM's strategy for victims and survivors;
- To contribute to the Commission's assessment of the needs of victims and survivors; funding arrangements and the provision of services.
- To advise the Commission on dealing with the past.
- To advise the Commission on the contribution of victims and survivors to building a shared and better future.
Participants of the Forum are invited into membership by the Commission for Victims and Survivors, in accordance with Article 6 of the Victims and Survivors (Northern Ireland) Order 2006.The essential qualities of members are:
- A willingness to reflect on personal experience;
- An openness to give due regard to the personal experience of others;
- A preparedness to think as an individual, distrinct from affiliations to a group, community or tradition;
- Competence regarding the use of the mechanisms, processes and procedures of the Forum;
- Commitment to serve within the discipline of Forum membership as laid down within Forum protocol.
Two individuals participate as Associate Members of the Forum. They were chosen because of their professional backgrounds and personal insight. Associate members do not have a vote but are otherwise entitled to take full part in the life of the Forum.