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Ending Northern Uganda’s Crisis

Ending Northern Uganda’s Crisis

Kampala/Brussels, 11 January 2006: Only a comprehensive international strategy will halt the brutal insurgency of the Lord’s Resistance Army in Uganda.

A Strategy for Ending Northern Uganda’s Crisis,* the latest policy briefing from the International Crisis Group, outlines a far-reaching plan to execute the International Criminal Court (ICC) arrest warrants and bring the twenty-year-long conflict to a close. The U.S. UK, Norway and the Netherlands (the informal “Quartet” of concerned countries in Kampala), along with other ICC supporters and the UN must all work with the Ugandan and neighbouring governments to fashion a comprehensive approach that integrates both military and non-military elements.

“In isolation, military, diplomatic, political, and judicial strategies have no realistic prospect of success”, says John Prendergast, Crisis Group Senior Adviser. “All these pieces have to be substantially enhanced and to fit together to have any hope of making peace a reality”.

The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) insurgency is now in its twentieth year with no end in sight. The rebels’ new tactic of ambushing vehicles, including those of aid agencies, has worsened the humanitarian situation in northern Uganda. Mediation efforts by former Ugandan minister Betty Bigombe have stalled, and the situation has been made more complicated by Kampala’s crackdown on opposition forces over the past few months. Peace processes in Sudan and the Congo are being disrupted as the LRA crosses borders without response from the UN Security Council, and ICC arrest warrants for LRA leaders have gone unexecuted.

Governments committed both to ending the war and achieving accountability in Uganda need to devise and apply a comprehensive strategy that complements and reinforces the ICC indictments and the peacemaking efforts of Betty Bigombe, including: apprehending ICC indictees; pressing Uganda and neighbouring states to co-operate to fight LRA incursions; getting the Ugandan military to focus on protecting civilians; supporting Bigombe’s moves to renew dialogue with the LRA including incentives for its non-indicted leaders; pushing for a disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration (DDR) program; establishing a truth and reconciliation commission; and providing for the basic humanitarian needs of displaced persons.

The UN Security Council should recognise the LRA poses a threat to international peace and security, endorse this plan, and appoint a UN envoy. It should also create a Panel of Experts to investigate support and sanctuary to the LRA and impose targeted sanctions on identified persons.

“Without a comprehensive government-donor strategy, the northern Uganda problem will never be definitively solved”, says Suliman Baldo, Crisis Group’s Africa Program Director.

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