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Abstract: Politics, Religion and Power in the Great Lakes Region covers the political, religious and power relations in the contemporary Great Lakes States : Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Kenya and the Sudan. The work is important because of the nexus between these countries’ shared present and past - their political, socio-economic, cultural and historical aspirations. In terms of regional cooperation, they are the countries, save for the DRC and the Sudan, which form the current East African Community.
The book reflects on the complex dynamics and strategies of the ensuing power struggle, bringing forth a unique set of fascinating revelations of patterns of primitive capital accumulation, resistance, human rights violations and the political compromises between traditional enemies when confronted by a common (foreign) enemy. A critical analysis of the political distortion the region suffered brings to light the relevance of these divisive tools on the current trends in the African countries, drawing inferences from the African Great Lakes Region (GLR).
The study highlights how the conflicts were finally resolved to avert a serious war, thus bringing about new reforms. This history is instructive to the contemporary reader because of the frequent skirmishes caused by ethnic and religious differences, political and territorial conflicts as well as resource and leadership disputes in the GLR.
Abstract: It would be hard to conceive of two States that offer greater contrasts than
Somalia and Eritrea: the former, a collapsed State for over two decades, with no
functional national institutions; the latter, possessing the most highly centralized,
militarized and authoritarian system of government on the African continent. From a
sanctions monitoring perspective, however, the two countries present very similar
challenges: in both cases, power is concentrated in the hands of individuals rather
than institutions and is exercised through largely informal and often illicit networks
of political and financial control. Leaders in both countries often depend more
heavily on political and economic support from foreign Governments and diaspora
networks than from the populations within their own borders. And both countries —
in very different ways — serve as platforms for foreign armed groups that represent a
grave and increasingly urgent threat to peace and security in the Horn and East
More than half of Somali territory is controlled by responsible, comparatively
stable authorities that have demonstrated, to varying degrees, their capacity to
provide relative peace and security to their populations. Without exception, the
administrations of Somaliland, Puntland, Gaalmudug, and “Himan iyo Heeb”
evolved independently of centralized State-building initiatives, from painstaking,
organic local political processes. Much of Galguduud region is controlled by anti-Al-
Shabaab clan militias loosely unified under the umbrella of Ahlu Sunna wal Jama’a
(ASWJ), but lacks a functional authority. Consolidation of and cooperation between
such entities represents the single most effective strategy for countering threats like
extremism and piracy, while expanding peace and security in Somalia.
Abstract: This report documents the pattern of trials of civilians before military courts, the ways in which such trials violate international legal principles, and the steps Uganda should take to address these fair-trial violations. Since 2002, military courts in Uganda have prosecuted over 1,000 civilians on charges under the criminal code, such as murder and armed robbery. A 2006 Ugandan Constitutional Court ruling, upheld on appeal in 2009 before the Supreme Court and consistent with international law, that military courts are not competent to try civilians accused of common crimes has not been enforced.
Abstract: The East African region has long confronted the challenge of small arms and
light weapons (SALW) proliferation. The history of small arms in the region goes back
to pre-colonial times, when sprawling gun markets existed in Maji, south-western
Ethiopia. At that time the Karamoja region (including those areas currently under
Kenyan and Ugandan administration) was a key destination for incoming arms.
Subsequently the anti-colonial Mau Mau struggle in 1950s Kenya is believed to have
introduced arms to urban areas, while recurrent instability in late 20th Century
Uganda worsened the small arms situation there.
Many linked factors drive demand for small arms in contemporary Kenya and Uganda.
At the local level, inter-group animosities between ethnic groups or clans in poorly
policed and under-developed pastoralist-inhabited areas are a key factor.1 Pastoralist
groups inhabit arid or semi-arid areas and are naturally in competition for scarce water
points and pastureland. Although low-intensity violence, above all revolving around
cattle raiding, has been an enduring feature of the region, the influx of automatic
weaponry has transformed its nature, intensified its human cost and transformed a
range of societal relationships.2 In the absence of effective and accessible state security
provision in these areas, small arms are naturally seen as a guarantor of security. In
turn localised illicit arms transfers are also a source of income.
Abstract: This working paper is written against a background of continued formation of national
co-ordination mechanisms for the control of SALW globally and the persistent
question as to whether existing and emerging structures are living up to expectations.
It assesses the achievements and challenges faced by two such structures, namely the
National Focal Points for SALW (NFPs) control in Kenya and Uganda, while also
examining the record of a supporting regional body, the Regional Centre on Small
Arms (RECSA). Preliminary conclusions and recommendations are drawn at the
end of the paper targeting RECSA, the two governments and also external actors like
donors and civil society. A combination of desk research and selected interviews with
NFP staff and external stakeholders informed the research.
Kenya and Uganda have been selected for analysis because they were among the first
countries in the East African region to establish co-ordination bodies following agreement
of the Nairobi Declaration on the Problem of the Proliferation of the Illicit Small
Arms and Light Weapons in the Great Lakes Region and Horn of Africa (the ‘Nairobi
Declaration’) in the year 2000 and as such have had sufficient time to demonstrate
both successes and failings. The paper does not claim to be a comprehensive study on
the effectiveness of NFPs in the region as this would require more substantial research
and many more case studies. It does however provide an overview of the issues affecting
SALW control efforts in the region which can be built on in subsequent research.
Abstract: Why do armed groups recruit large numbers of children as fighters, often coercively? The international
community has tried to curb these crimes by shaming and punishing leaders who commit
them—in short, making the crimes costlier. Are these policies effective and sufficient? The
answer lies in more attention to the strategic interaction between rebel leaders and recruits. We
adapt theories of industrial organization to rebellious groups and show how, being less able
fighters, children are attractive recruits if and only if they are easier to intimidate, indoctrinate
and misinform than adults. This ease of manipulation interacts with the costliness of war crimes
to influence rebel leaders’ incentives to coerce children into war. We use a case study and a novel
survey of former child recruits in Uganda to illustrate this argument and provide hard evidence
not only that children are more easily manipulated in war, but also how—something often asserted
but never demonstrated. Our theory, as well as a new “cross-rebel” dataset, also support the
idea that costliness matters: foreign governments, international organizations, diasporas, and local
populations can discourage child recruitment by withholding resources or punishing offenders
(or, conversely, encourage these crimes by failing to act). But punishing war crimes has limitations,
and can only take us so far. Children’s reintegration opportunities must be at least as
great as adults’ (something that demobilization programs sometimes fail to do). Also, indoctrination
and misinformation can be directly influenced. We observe grassroots innovations in Uganda
that could be models for the prevention and curbing of child soldiering and counterinsurgency
Abstract: Background: Despite the serious consequences of conflict for reproductive
health, populations affected by conflict and its aftermath face tremendous
barriers to accessing reproductive health services, due to insecurity,
inadequate numbers of trained personnel and lack of supplies. Family
planning is often particularly neglected.
Methods: In six conflict-affected areas in Sudan, northern Uganda and the
Democratic Republic of Congo, household surveys of married or in-union
women of reproductive age were conducted to determine baseline measures
of family planning knowledge, attitudes and behaviors regarding
contraception. Health facility assessments were carried out to assess baseline
measures of family planning services availability. Data were double-entered
into CSPro 3.2 and exported to SAS 9.2, which was used to calculate
descriptive statistics. The studies’ purposes were to guide program activities
and to serve as a baseline against which program accomplishments could be
Results: Knowledge of modern contraceptive methods was low relative to
other sub-Saharan African countries, and use of modern methods was under
4 percent in four sites; in two sites with prior family planning services it was 12 percent
and 16.2 percent. From 30 percent to 40 percent of women reported they did not want a child
within two years, however, and an additional 12 percent to 35 percent wanted no
additional children, suggesting a clear need for family planning services. The
health facilities assessment showed that at most only one-third of the facilities
mandated to provide family planning had the necessary staff, equipment and
supplies to do so adequately; in some areas, none of the facilities were
prepared to offer such services.
Conclusions: Family planning services are desired by women living in crisis
situations when offered in a manner appropriate to their needs, yet services
are rarely adequate to meet these needs. Refugee and internally displaced
women must be included in national and donors’ plans to improve family
planning in Africa.
Abstract: This report provides an overview of the CSIS study series examining the risks of instability in 10 African countries over the next decade. The 10 papers are designed to be complementary but can also be read individually as self-standing country studies. The overview draws on common themes and explains the methodology underpinning the research. The project was commissioned by the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The papers in this series are not meant to offer hard and fast predictions about the future. While they sketch out some potential scenarios for the next 10 years, these efforts should be treated as thought experiments that look at how different dynamics might converge to create the conditions for instability. The intention is not to single out countries believed to be at risk of impending disaster and make judgments about how they will collapse. Few, if any, of the countries in this series are at imminent risk of breakdown. All of them have coping mechanisms that militate against conflict, and discussions of potential “worst-case scenarios” have to be viewed with this qualification in mind.
Abstract: While the world’s attention often gravitates to the latest emergency situation, we are acutely aware that
most of the world’s internally displaced persons (IDPs) live in protracted displacement. Displacement
drags on, sometimes for years or decades, because of continuing conflict, because peace processes are
stalled, or because political settlements fail to provide the necessary security and support for the displaced to find solutions.
The 2nd Expert Seminar on Protracted Internal Displacement was held in Geneva from 19-20 January 2011 on the theme of “IDPs in protracted displacement: Is local integration a solution?” Around 100 participants discussed challenges and possibilities of local integration in diverse protracted displacement situations over the course of the two days.
This publication includes the six case studies commissioned for the seminar as well as an introductory essay which
explores the common themes emerging from the studies on protracted displacement and local integration. By focusing on the possibilities and challenges of local integration in protracted displacement, we hope that these
six case studies lead to better understanding—and to concrete actions—which will bring an end to internal displacement
which has gone on for far too long in these six countries and in many others.
Abstract: The big-picture issues at the crossroads of peacemaking, peacekeeping, and peacebuilding were taken up by the Security Council in September 2010, under the presidency of Turkey. Leading up to that discussion, Turkey held numerous bilateral consultations, and, with the support of IPI, organized an expert meeting on these issues in New York in May 2010 and an informal retreat in Istanbul for members of the Council in June 2010.
This publication is intended to document some of that process, and includes the Statement by the President of the Security Council, the outcome summary of the June retreat, and the set of papers that were presented there. Three of these papers draw lessons from the UN’s experiences in different areas of the world (Afghanistan, the Balkans, and the Great Lakes region of Africa), and one paper analyzes cross-cutting themes.
Table of Contents:
Introduction, Francesco Mancini
Security Council Istanbul Retreat: At The Crossroads of Peacemaking, Peacekeeping, and Peacebuilding
Adam C. Smith and Vanessa Wyeth, Rapporteurs
Peacemaking In Afghanistan: A Role For The United Nations?
The Security Council And Peacekeeping In The Balkans, 1992-2010
Richard Gowan and Daniel Korski
The Great Lakes of Africa (Burundi, The Drc, And The LRA-Affected Areas)
Composite Paper on Cross-Cutting Themes
International Peace Institute
Statement by the President of the Security Council
Abstract: All children have a right to education. This includes displaced
children affected by conflict, since the right to
education cannot be suspended in times of conflict or
emergency. Furthermore, education during displacement
and in the post-displacement phase is a vital component
of successful recovery, because it gives people the tools
they need to rebuild their communities. It is essential to
enable sustainable solutions to displacement as former
IDPs will otherwise struggle to enjoy an adequate standard
Yet in northern Uganda, children grew up without an adequate
education during the protracted conflict between
the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the government,
which started in 1986. Now that families are returning
home, or seeking other solutions to displacement, they
continue to face difficulties accessing quality education.
Two generations of children – those who were displaced
and those now growing up in return areas – have been
left without an education and without the tools they might
need to help rebuild their communities.
Abstract: Most of the world’s 27.5 million internally displaced people
(IDPs) live in protracted displacement. These are
situations where the process for finding durable solutions
is stalled, and/or where IDPs are marginalised
as a consequence of violations or a lack of protection
of their human rights, including economic, social and
cultural rights.1 Solutions are absent or have failed and
IDPs remain disadvantaged and unable to fully enjoy
The seminar brought together about 100 participants
from around the world, from a range of backgrounds
and organisations. They included representatives of
governments and civil society organisations in countries
with protracted internal displacement, international
humanitarian and development organisations (including
UN agencies) donors, research organisations, academics
and other experts. The Chatham House Rule was in
effect during the meeting to allow participants to speak
The seminar focused on the experiences of six countries
with protracted internal displacement – Burundi,
Colombia, Georgia, Serbia, southern Sudan and Uganda.
For each country field research was commissioned and
the resulting case studies were distributed before the
seminar. Other background materials circulated to participants
included an overview of local integration of
IDPs in protracted displacement and reference materials
relating to durable solutions.
Abstract: The level of women’s participation in armed violence in Africa is determined by the nature and
typology of conflict. Using prior research as a data source, the article examines the nature of
women’s participation in on-going and recently-concluded armed conflicts in 15 countries in Africa.
Based upon data that show variations, and similarities in the contextual conditions under which
women become war participants, this article presents three kinds of wars, and the conditions that
distinguish them from one another, as a theoretical framework in analysing women’s involvement in
Africa’s armed conflicts. The findings show that in ‘resources/opportunistic’ driven wars, women’s
participation is higher and more complex when compared to ‘ethno-religious’ and
‘secessionist/autonomy’ driven wars. Moreover, this paper finds that women’s participation can be
active and passive; coerced and voluntary.
Abstract: In February 2006, Ugandans voted in the first multi-party elections in almost 26 years. President
Yoweri Museveni and his ruling National Revolutionary Movement (NRM) parliamentary
candidates won a decisive victory over opposition candidate Kizza Besigye and the Forum for
Democracy Coalition. Nevertheless, poll results showed a notable decline in support for President
Museveni from previous elections. International election observers did not condemn the election
results, nor did they fully endorse the electoral process. Critics charged the government with
intimidating the opposition during the pre-election period, and Besigye spent much of the
campaign period in jail. The election followed a controversial move by the Ugandan parliament
in July 2005 to remove the constitutional two-term limit on the presidency. In February 2011,
Ugandans voted in presidential and parliamentary elections. President Museveni won 68% of the
vote, while his nearest opponent, Besigye, won 26% of the vote. In April 2011, a number of
opposition leaders, including Besigye, were arrested after multiple “walk to work”
In the north, the government of Uganda has long fought the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), an
armed rebel group backed by the government of Sudan. Through over 20 years of civil war, the
brutal insurgency has created a humanitarian crisis that has displaced over 1.5 million people and
resulted in the abduction of over 20,000 children. In August 2006, the government of Uganda and the LRA
signed a Cessation of Hostilities Agreement.
The cessation of hostilities has
allowed an estimated 1.4 million people to return to their homes. In November 2007, an LRA
delegation went to Kampala for the first time and held talks with senior Ugandan officials. In late
2007, Vincent Otti, the deputy commander of the LRA, reportedly was killed in Uganda by
Joseph Kony, the head of the LRA. In December 2009, the deputy commander of the LRA, Bok
Abudema, was killed by Ugandan forces in Central African Republic. In 2009 and 2010, a
number of senior commanders have been killed or captured or have defected. In late November
2010, the Obama Administration announced a “Strategy to Support the Disarmament of the
LRA,” as called for in P.L. 111-172.
On July 11, 2010, the Somali terrorist group Al-Shabaab carried out multiple suicide bombings in
Kampala, Uganda. An estimated 76 people, including one American, were killed and more than
80 injured. The United Nations, the African Union, and the United States condemned the terrorist
attacks. More than 20 suspects are currently in prison.
Abstract: Recent elections in Uganda produced the outcome “everyone expected”: President Museveni and the NRM-party won. After 25 years of Museveni in power, the opposition has failed to pose any significant and real challenge to President Museveni’s rule. Rather than a democratic contest for power, elections in Uganda appear to be tools for consolidating power. The election reflects the NRM and Museveni’s continued control of the political game. Albeit internal weaknesses in the political opposition, we argue that a hostile operating environment makes it impossible for the opposition parties to compete.
Abstract: This paper reviews the recent literature on processes of violent mobilisation. It highlights
the need to distinguish between conflict and violence, arguing that violence deserves specific
attention, separate from an analysis of the macro-cleavages which lead to social conflict.
It goes on to detail those circumstances which result in political violence. Political violence
is generally initiated by ‘specialists’, people with the specific skills and desire to trigger
such conflict, and we analyse what makes non-specialists follow them. We question the
validity of a dichotomy between greed and grievances as drivers of violent engagement.
Instead we show that participation in violence could be seen, from an individual perspective,
as a constantly changing process of ‘navigation’. However, this makes establishing motivations
for violence difficult, both analytically and empirically. We therefore suggest an alternative
way of studying the causes of the worst forms of collective violence, shifting attention
from the individual to armed organisations. Indeed, these armed organisations are where
the external constraints on insurgency (logistical, political, military) and the internal imperatives
of military cohesion and efficiency are dealt with. The forms of collective violence (of
high intensity or not, targeted or indiscriminate etc.) stem from how such organisational
puzzles are solved. We detail some of the causal mechanisms that could be significant in
shaping the histories and routes taken by such armed organisations. The last section discusses
the policy implications of these findings.
Abstract: Elections represent a critical opportunity for the ordinary citizen to hold a government to account. They also perform a vital function in facilitating and legitimizing political change. But elections do not always deliver meaningful change and are at risk of being superficial if certain fundamental conditions are not in place. A greater focus is therefore needed on those channels that connect citizens and the state more substantively, including political parties and progress towards a fiscal contract.
Abstract: The 59-page report documents the unit’s illegal methods of investigation and serious violations of the rights of the people it arrests and detains. The unit has a history of violent and unlawful operations since it was formed by President Yoweri Museveni in 2002 as Operation Wembley, an ad-hoc security entity commanded by an active member of the Ugandan military. Later, the unit became the Violent Crime Crack Unit and was formally taken under police command. In 2007, it was renamed the Rapid Response Unit.
Abstract: Militia, freedom fighters, rebels, terrorists,
paramilitaries, revolutionaries, guerrillas, gangs,
quasi-state bodies... and many other labels. In this
issue of FMR we look at all of these, at actors defined
as being armed and being ‘non-state’ – that is to say,
without the full responsibilities and obligations of the
state. Some of these actors have ideological or political
aims; some aspire to hold territory and overthrow a
government; some could be called organised groups,
and for others that would stretch the reality. Their
objectives vary but all are in armed conflict with the
state and/or with each other. Such actors, deliberately or
otherwise, regularly cause the displacement of people.
This issue of FMR
focuses more on the consequences of their violence and
its effects on people, and suggests ways in which these
might be mitigated. The articles included here reflect the
views of civil society groups and individuals in regular
contact with non-state armed groups, of academics and
governments, and of organisations that have years of
experience in engaging – creatively and productively –
with non-state armed groups.
This issue also includes a range of articles discussing
subjects as varied as the labelling of migrants, solar
energy in camps, gang persecution, and scoring states’
performance in respect of the rights of refugees.
Abstract: Despite the religious diversity in sub‐Saharan Africa and the religious overtones in a number
of African conflicts, social science research has inadequately addressed the question of how
and to what extent religion matters for conflict in Africa. This paper presents an innovative
data inventory on religion and violent conflict in all sub‐Saharan countries for the period
1990–2008 that seeks to contribute to filling the gap. The data underscore that religion has to
be accounted for in conflict in Africa. Moreover, results show the multidimensionality (e.g.
armed conflicts with religious incompatibilities, several forms of non‐state religious violence)
and ambivalence (inter‐religious networks, religious peace initiatives) of religion vis‐à‐vis violence.
In 22 of the 48 sub‐Saharan countries, religion plays a substantial role in violence, and
six countries in particular—Chad, Congo‐Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Sudan and Uganda—
are heavily affected by different religious aspects of violence.
Abstract: Popular revolt continued to convulse the Arab world in February. The rapid spread and escalation of unrest underlined the magnitude of events, but their pace makes the direction of change uncertain.
After almost three weeks of massive protests Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak stepped down on 11 February. The Supreme Military Council took control and promised presidential and parliamentary elections within six months. On 22 February a new civilian cabinet was sworn in.
Just days after Mubarak's downfall protests broke out in Libya against Muammar Qaddafi's four-decade rule. Hundreds of civilians were feared killed and thousands injured as Qaddafi launched a brutal crackdown, prompting senior members of the regime and military to defect. By the end of the month Libya was in the throes of a full-scale rebellion, with large parts of the country under opposition control. The UN Security Council unanimously voted to impose sanctions and refer Libya to the International Criminal Court.
Protests intensified in Yemen, where dozens were killed in daily clashes between protesters and security forces from the middle of the month. Demonstrations for political reform in Bahrain also saw several protesters killed by security forces. Following international condemnation of the crackdown Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa ordered the withdrawal of security forces and offered dialogue with the opposition. In Afghanistan, the standoff continued between President Hamid Karzai and the opposition over the flawed September parliamentary election. A controversial special tribunal set up by Karzai - which the opposition condemns as unconstitutional - has started recounting votes in several provinces. Three Muscovite tourists were killed in a guerrilla attack on a North Caucasus ski resort, one of several attacks in the region's Kabardino-Balkaria Republic. The attack underlined the degree to which the previously relatively peaceful republic has become a target of Islamic guerrilla activity.
Conflict in Somalia escalated as government troops backed by AU peacekeepers battled against Islamic militant al-Shabaab in Mogadishu, and Ethiopian troops were reportedly involved in border clashes. In Somaliland, tensions increased in oil-rich Sool, Sanaag and Cayn region as government forces fought with rebel militia.
The collapse of a six-year ceasefire led to heightened tensions in Côte d'Ivoire and further warnings of an outbreak of civil war. The situation in Thailand also deteriorated as hostilities broke out along the border with Cambodia in the disputed area near Preah Vihear temple. Compromised elections in Uganda saw President Yoweri Museveni win a fourth term.
Abstract: This report examines the role memorials have played in Uganda’s transitional justice
process. Addressed to community members, conflict survivors, policymakers, and
donors, it reviews existing memorials and offers recommendations to those seeking
to initiate new memorial activities. It is based on research conducted in the Acholi
and Lango subregions of northern Uganda involving the eponymous ethnic groups.
In forming a narrative of the conflict, it is not hard to
understand why people struggle, and why “interpreting
the lived reality” is almost always ambivalent or contradictory.
Circumstances can place survivors in situations
where—however compelled they may feel to bear
witness—they are unable to do so because they cannot
express themselves at all or because they cannot do so
in a way that effectively communicates their experience
to others. Studies have noted this phenomenon with
respect to the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide. The extent
of the impact on entire communities, and the extreme
nature of the traumas inflicted, is perhaps comparable
to those crimes against humanity and war crimes.
Abstract: Since the end of the Cold War, much international attention has focused on
identifying which factors within a mediation process contribute to sustainable
peace. Despite growing recognition of the importance
of inclusion, most mediation processes offer limited scope for the voices and
representation of women or for civil society more broadly. Women have been
found to strengthen peace accords by increasing attention to women’s priorities
such as human rights concerns and promoting reconciliation and security on
Recent discussion around women’s participation in mediated peace processes
has led to a more nuanced debate, which can be divided into two distinct areas:
the participation of women in peace processes, and the inclusion of issues of
importance to women in the substance of the talks. While these aspects are
closely linked, increased participation of women does not immediately lead to
addressing gender in the substance of mediation processes. Specific expertise
and attention, in addition to participation, is required. Both will have an impact
on the sustainability of a peace agreement, and both require attention and a
specific set of strategies. This distinction is brought into sharp relief with an
examination of the Kenya mediation process after the crisis following elections
in December 2007. While the Kenyan process has been hailed as an example
of good practice due to the high level and high profile of women involved,
this does not tell the full story – of both the successes and the challenges of
addressing gender issues in the mediation process.
Abstract: This paper proposes a framework for the study of the role of armies in elite bargaining and state building. The author accepts that the institutionalisation of the army and its subordination to the political elite has proved a successful path for most western democracies, but argues that this same path may not be attractive or feasible for ruling elites in every circumstance, particularly in fragile or developmental states. The paper describes a range of alternative approaches and highlights the trade-offs implicit in each of them. In particular, it focuses on the incorporation of armies to the elite bargain as the
main alternative. The hypothesis which we tested in our series of case studies is that in
contexts of state formation and in the early stages of state building, the integration of the army
into a country’s elite bargain is a key factor in preventing military interventions. The author draws on examples from a wide range of countries studied during the Centre's second phase of work, including Afghanistan, Colombia, DRCongo, Pakistan, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia.
Abstract: Many former combatants from the Lord’s Resistance Army, or LRA, have given up
the fight during the past two years. They have steadily returned to northern Uganda,
making long journeys from Sudan, the Central African Republic, or CAR, and the
Democratic Republic of the Congo. With the LRA scattered in small groups across a
wide swathe of territory, each fighter tells a different story, but nearly all express disillusionment
with the LRA and commander Joseph Kony. One fighter who escaped north
of Western Bahr el Ghazal state in Sudan said: “Kony lied to us when he said we were
fighting for the rights of our people in Uganda. We were too far from home.”
Encouraging the defection of LRA fighters and providing opportunities for them to
reintegrate into civilian life are critical components of the wider effort to neutralize
the LRA’s threat to civilians and comprise key objectives of President Obama’s strategy
to disarm the LRA. Despite the strategic imperative to encourage defections, current
efforts are falling short and risk discouraging current fighters from leaving the LRA.
The process of defection brings about countless perils. Men, women, and children formerly
in the LRA risk beatings and death if caught by LRA commanders. Once outside
of the reach of their commanders, former LRA risk being lynched by the local populations
of Congo, Sudan, and CAR as well as being mistreated by the regional armies.