The initiation of an investigation by the Office of the Prosecutor at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in Northern and Eastern Uganda has sparked intense debate on its impact on the prospects for peace in the region. On one side of the debate, it is argued that the Chief Prosecutor’s timing negatively impacts the efforts of Betty Bigombe, chief mediator between the Government of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), to re-initiate talks. The fear is that the LRA will have no incentive to dialogue with the Government if they face arrest and detention. Second, the investigation provides a disincentive for rebel commanders to come out under the provision of the Ugandan Amnesty Act (2000). Third, the investigation undermines the efforts of locally-based civil society groups to support the peaceful return and reintegration of combatants under the Amnesty. On the other side, the Chief Prosecutor, Luis Moreno Ocampo’s investigation has had a positive impact, facilitating prospects for realizing sustainable peace, primarily by drawing greater international attention to the conflict and pressuring conflicting parties to resolve it.
This Human Security Update examines the origins and evolution of the two sides of the debate on ‘peace vs. justice’ and attempts to bring them into conversation. Recent efforts to exchange information and views on this topic may provide an entry point for finding a balanced approach between international and local initiatives. Both approaches have relative merits and limitations. Neither are a stand-alone solution, but a well-planned, long-term, coordinated and transparent approach could stimulate both peace and justice in the region.
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