After Juba Peace Talks

Just returned from the Refugee Law Project forum on The Juba Peace Talks. It was a stirring discussion, which had the usual suspects of Acholi firebrands, eloquent UPDF spokesman, and Northern European international law advocates. However, the discussion was incredibly important, because it was the first public discussion in Kampala since the Juba talks had began.

Here are the two huge questions that are going to have to be answered, and seemingly no consensus yet:

National Reconciliation- Surely the north/south divide precedes the most recent war in the north. However, is working to end economic and service provision discrepancies enough? Or should the Government take this opportunity to work towards a sense of national unity. If so, what form does this take?

The Role of Justice- There seems to be consensus that the ICC will withdraw indictments if the LRA agrees to the conditions set at Juba. However, does this leave impunity for the worst human rights offenders in the LRA? The traditional tool of Mato Oput does not provide a mechanism for justice, and there seems to be little support for truth commissions or trials. And here is a challenge that does not have precedent in international law: How do you get the guy at the negotiating table (Otti, Kony) to make peace if they are the ones going to be indicted later? No one seemed to have an answer for this.

My thoughts:

Reconciliation will be a multi-tiered process, inter-Acholi, regional and perhaps national. There is little political support for national reconciliation. The process will be fragmented, which is to say decentralized, which I think is important.

Justice is a tricky one. The Government will have to continue the talks while the rank and file comes out of the bush and more in contact with the rest of civilization. Then justice will have to be taken into account later.

Obviously, there needs to be more discussions like this with the people in the north, with support from the organizations and people based in Kampala.

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