Truce Reached in Uganda: The ICC’s Dilemma Continues

by Julian Ku

The BBC reports that the Ugandan government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army has reached a truce in the 20 year civil war that may eventually lead to a comprehensive peace agreement.

As we noted on this blog, the apparent success of this round of peace talks has been an informal assurance by the International Criminal Court that it would not pursue enforcement of arrest warrants againsg the rebel LRA leaders. But, as far as I know, the arrest warrants have not been formally withdrawn so the ICC could still be planning to seek enforcement at some point in the future. In fact, because the LRA is going to withdraw into southern Sudan under the truce, the ICC could (and probably already has) demanded that the Sudanese government arrest the LRA leaders.

At the end of the day, the ICC will probably have to choose between justice or peace. This is an agonizing choice, but a necessary one.

4 Responses

  1. If the choice is peace, I supposed there’s some consolation for those of us who believe in divine, cosmic, or karmic justice of some sort….

  2. Julian:

    I’m not sure why you pose the choice as “peace versus justice.” Is it just to insist on arresting and prosecuting Kony at the expense of ending the civil war? Is it not just to stop the atrocities by whatever means necessary? It may be distasteful to let Kony walk from his crimes, but if that’s what it takes to end what’s been going on in Uganda, I’m hesistant to say which is the “just” option. There can be several kinds of justice competing at any given time. Perhaps, in this case, retributive justice (the desire to punish Kony and his LRA cronies for their atrocities) trumps societal justice, maybe it doesn’t. But the choice isn’t simply between peace and justice.

  3. I must say I find myself, for once, agreeing with Professor Weinberger in spite of the sigh of resignation expressed in my first comment. And yet I think we should be clear as to the nature of social and political justice and how these relate, say, to criminal justice. Perhaps forgoing retributive justice has a corrosive effect on social and political justice (or even ‘legal’ or ‘ethical’ justice; I’m assuming that, in the end, there’s more than family resemblance to the various kinds of justice). In any case, I’m grateful to Professor Weinberger for making me think more carefully about what is at stake here.

  4. I should have also said, in fairness to Professor Ku, that we’re still faced with what he describes as an agonizing but necessary choice, even if we re-define the terms of that choice.

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