"In the interests of justice?" The International Criminal Court, peace talks and the failed quest for war crimes accountability in northern Uganda

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This article analyzes the first peace talks to take place against the backdrop of an International Criminal Court (ICC) investigation: the Juba Talks between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda (2006–2008). Drawing on field research and original source material, it departs from well-worn peace versus justice debates and provides new empirical material to explore how the presence of the court shaped domestic political dynamics at Juba. It argues that at the level of broad rhetoric, the presence of the court created significant discord between negotiating parties. On a practical level, however, it created space for consensus, but not the type envisaged by international justice promoters. The court came to be seen by both sides as an intervention that needed to be contained and controlled. This resulted in the politically expedient Agreement on Accountability and Reconciliation, which showcased a transitional justice “tool-kit,” but was based on a shared desire to evade the jurisdiction of international criminal justice. Given its practical complexity, the transitional justice agreement was ultimately rejected by Joseph Kony, who became increasingly distrustful of his own negotiating team at Juba. In findings relevant to other contexts, the article presents in-depth analyses of how domestic political dynamics around the ICC intervention produced a national transitional justice framework designed to protect both parties from war crimes accountability.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)628-648
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Eastern African Studies
Issue number4
Early online date5 Oct 2017
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2017

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