International Criminal Court's (ICC) Role in Uganda


The search for sustainable peace in northern Uganda has been complex where several methods have been used in an attempt to bring an end to the suffering of the people. The most pronounced methods have been the military option, dialogue, and the intervention of the International Criminal Court (ICC) through the issuing of arrest warrants to the five top leaders of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Despite all attempts, today the conflict rages on and has sadly spread affecting the entire region.

The Religious Leaders who make up the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace Initiative (ARLPI), have struggled to accept the role the ICC has played in northern Uganda. While they also desire to see justice and peace flow throughout the region, they recognize the potential of the indictments to derail the small steps which have been made to find a nonviolent resolution to the conflict through dialogue.

For years ARLPI has advocated for the suspension of the ICC indictments in order to ensure that dialogue is given it's rightful chance to succeed. This has taken the form of briefings, press releases, meetings with dignitaries and even visits to the Hague. Sadly to date, all efforts have not met their goal.

ARLPI recognizes the ICC as a legal world body along with the Rome Statute to which Uganda is a signatory and it's attempt to address issues of impunity around the world. ARLPI by no means is against the formation of the ICC as a structure and supports the important role it can play to stand up against injustice, however ARLPI has the following reservations regarding the role which the ICC is playing in northern Uganda:

  • ICC has not maintained an appearance of neutrality. By failing to address crimes committed by the Ugandan United Peoples Defense Force (UPDF), it appears as though it is playing a partisan role in investigating the conflict. Also holding a joint press conference with the President of Uganda has been perceived negatively given Museveni himself invited the ICC into the country.
  • The timing of the investigation came at a very sensitive and critical moment during the conflict and failed to consider the negative affects it would have upon dialogue between the conflicting parties.
  • There has been great disagreement between ICC and the community in northern Uganda. While many grassroots people condemn the role the ICC is playing, the desire to reconcile and reintegrate is considered as condoning impunity by the ICC.
  • The ICC has no arresting structure and therefore is unable to apprehend Joseph Kony and his top leaders.
  • Takes the process out of the hands of people by trying them outside the country.
  • Retributive justice prevents the full truth from being known as lawyers often counsel their clients to refrain from sharing certain facts/stories so not to further implicate them.
  • The ICC lacks sensitivity for current initiatives taking place to bring about peace and justice and does not consider how it's actions will affect the outcome of such.
  • The ICC fails to act in a complementary way with other transitional justice mechanisms. While it seeks justice, it forgets about other core principles such as forgiveness and reconciliation which are needed to realize sustainable peace.

site administrator,
Jul 9, 2009, 3:14 AM