Transitional Justice in Northern Uganda - A report on the pursuit of justice in ongoing conflict

Anne Kirstine Iversen

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Northern Uganda has been ravaged by violent conflict between the Government of Uganda (GoU) and the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) for more than 20 years. The consequences of the conflict have been far-reaching and include destabilisation of the region, the displacement of up to 1.8 million people, the killing and mutilation of tens of thousands of civilians, and the abduction of even more civilians, mainly children, for recruitment in the LRA forces. Many years of failing attempts to put an end to the conflict and the miseries of the Ugandan population have finally paid off in recent years with a series of peace building initiatives that have brought relative stability to the region. Peace and conflict resolution scholars often argue that long-term reconciliation and lasting peace are best achieved through the pursuit of justice. This project examines to what extent the pursuit of justice has been addressed in the GoU’s peace building efforts. While transitional justice often is addressed in post-conflict contexts, Uganda is an interesting example of how transitional justice can be addressed in a situation of ongoing conflict. The project, consequently, scrutinizes the dilemmas of pursuing justice in the context of ongoing conflict by applying a comprehensive theoretical framework of transitional justice situated within a framework of peace and conflict resolution theory. The analytical focus of the project is the GoU’s referral of the situation in Northern Uganda to the International Criminal Court (ICC) in 2003 and the subsequent arrest warrants in 2005, as well as the Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation of 29 June 2007 and the Agreement on Comprehensive Solutions of 2 May 2007 signed during the Juba Peace Talks (2006-2008). In this project it is argued that the GoU’s comprehensive approach to transitional justice in its peace building efforts can potentially lead to national reconciliation and lasting peace. The transitional justice processes, as initiated by the GoU’s in its efforts to restore peace, however, face severe obstacles that truly risk compromising the peace process, including: 1) the failure of the ICC and the national judicial system to prosecute the alleged perpetrators from both parties to the conflict; 2) the failure of the GoU to support and legitimise the traditional justice mechanisms; 3) the failure of the GoU to recognise the suffering of the victims through truth telling mechanisms and reparations; and 4) the failure to address the socio-economic marginalization and political disempowerment of Northern Uganda, which constitute the main root causes of the conflict. While Northern Uganda is currently experiencing relatively stability, these factors severely risk compromising the unique opportunity to move towards peace.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato30 okt. 2009
VejlederePreben Kaarsholm


  • Northern Uganda
  • Transitional Justice