CSM column on peace versus justice in Uganda

The CSM yesterday published the first of two columns I’m writing for them about the competition between the claims of “peace” and of “justice” in northern Uganda. It includes some (though not nearly enough!) reporting from my recent trip there.
One thing I didn’t have space to note in the column is that the LRA not only has the “honor” of having five of its top leaders being the first people ever formally indicted by the Hague-based International Criminal Court, but it also has the “honor” of being on the US State Department’s list of “Foreign Terrorist Organizations”. This makes it double “illegal” for the Government of Uganda to be pursuing peace talks with the LRA leadership, as it currently is.
But since I have lived through a very protracted period of civil war in Lebanon, I can certainly attest to the fact that building a sustainable political-social peace is a huge desideratum. Indeed, it is the only basis on which all the panoply of “rights” in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights can ever start to be assured. I can also attest that peace is something you need to conclude with your enemies, not with your friends or people who agree with you.
It strikes me that the use of criminal prosecutions against the leaders of rebel groups (but not, notably, in this case any against abusers within the government or its forces… ) has the same, often peace-impeding, effect of trying to isolate and “make other” people who disagree with you as placing organizations on some (highly politicized) “terrorism list”.
My very best wishes to, and prayers for, the Ugandan peace negotiators as they proceed with their much-needed efforts.

One thought on “CSM column on peace versus justice in Uganda”

  1. I am sure that your experience in Lebanon was terrible, but as bad as it was it cannot be compared to the evil that Joseph Kony and the LRA visited upon the north. At least there was a sick and twisted logic to the civil war in Lebanon, goals and ideals to be fought over. From the beginning Kony has not had an ideology or defined goals. His simple plan was to terrorize his own tribe, and anyone else unfortunate enough to live in northern Uganda. A fair comparison for Kony would be to Pol Pot for his generous use of senseless brutality.

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