Peace vs. Justice

About This Episode

For almost 20 years, President Museveni and Uganda's government has been battling the insurgency of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), a conflict that has been described as one of the world's worst humanitarian crises. Having failed to end the conflict militarily, the government invited the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate the LRA's activities with the intention of prosecuting the rebel leaders responsible for the most egregious human-rights abuses. The ICC investigation has resulted in the indictment of the LRA's five most senior leaders but have yet to be apprehended.

Nobody — least of whom the millions of people of northern Uganda whose children have been abducted, drugged, and forced to kill — would argue that that LRA is not a vicious rebel movement. However, when the ICC issued arrest warrants, the rebels were engaged in peace talks. Once indicted, LRA leader Kony lost his incentive to make peace because he knew that any peace deal would result in the LRA's leadership being shipped off to The Hague.

As a result, the LRA has continued its bloody war. And most of the ICC lawyers are determined: the government of Uganda asked for prosecution so their aim is therefore to bring the perpetrators before the court. Africans, however, argue: "Why would the ICC indict our people? Why don't they prosecute the West's own leaders? Is it not time to go after the Western leaders who have abused human rights as well?" The people in Northern Uganda believe in restorative justice, which is based on finding the truth and restoring relationships, instead of the Western justice the ICC is representing, which is based on punishment.