December 12, 2007
With promising signs that the devastating two-decade conflict in northern Uganda will soon cease, “When the War Ends,” a report released today by Tulane University and the University of California–Berkeley, with the International Center for Transitional Justice (ICTJ), shows that the people are ready to return to their homes and willing to accept former fighters of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) back into their communities. They also want to know the truth about what has happened since the conflict ignited in 1986 and they want accountability for wrongdoing.
Researchers of the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative and ICTJ completed the broad population survey conducted in eight districts of northern Uganda from April to June 2007 to understand views on peace, justice and reconstruction among the people most affected by the war. Overall, 2,875 adults in camps, villages and municipalities throughout the districts were interviewed using a standardized questionnaire. The research follows “Forgotten Voices,” an earlier population-based study conducted in 2005.
The people of northern Uganda have suffered terribly in the course of the conflict between the LRA and the Ugandan People’s Defense Forces since 1987. They have experienced displacement from their homes into refugee camps (86 percent), abduction by the Lord’s Resistance Army (37 percent), or violence or loss of property or assets at the hands of both parties (85 percent). Today, a fledgling mediation effort led by the regional government of southern Sudan at Juba with the discreet support of the United Nations offers the best chance for finding a negotiated end to the conflict, although the negotiations have been stalled for months.
“As the peace process in Uganda unfolds, the Government of Uganda and the international community should incorporate the priorities expressed by the survey respondents into a multi-pronged strategy that promotes justice, peace-building, socioeconomic development and poverty-reduction in northern Uganda,” said study author Phuong Pham, research associate professor at Tulane University. “Particularly, victim-oriented measures should be put more central in the ongoing debates of justice at Juba.”
“When the War Ends” shows that a majority of the respondents believed that peace could be achieved in northern Uganda. “Physical peace may exist at present in northern Uganda, but much remains to be done to rebuild social infrastructures and livelihoods,” says Patrick Vinck, director of the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative for Vulnerable Populations who co-led the study.
Main priorities for the respondents in the survey were health care, peace, education for children, and livelihood concerns (including food, agricultural land, money and finances). More than two-thirds of them said it was important to hold accountable those responsible for committing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law. On the other hand, many also favored amnesty, and showed willingness to compromise for the sake of peace. Over 90 percent supported the establishment of a truth commission. About 60 percent were familiar with the International Criminal Court, an independent, treaty-based court that tries persons accused of the most serious crimes of international concern.
To read “When the War Ends,” go to: http://payson.tulane.edu/research/reports/pdf/When-The-War-Ends.pdf
Fieldwork on the study was mainly performed by Phuong Pham, Tulane University Payson Center for International Development and Patrick Vinck, director of the Berkeley-Tulane Initiative on Vulnerable Populations. Other authors include Eric Stover, Andrew Moss, Marieke Wierda and Richard Bailey. Support for the study was provided by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and Humanity United Fund.
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