Women‘s participation in transitional Justice in Northern Uganda
An Overview of Transitional Justice
The United Nations (UN) defines transitional justice as “the full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale past abuses, to ensure accountability, serve justice and achieve reconciliation.”(UN WOMEN, 2015)
Transitional justice processes include both judicial and non-judicial mechanisms, with differing levels of international involvement (or none at all) and individual prosecutions, reparations, truth-seeking, institutional reforms, vetting and dismissals, or a combination thereof (Porter, 2013).
UN Security Council Resolution 1325 cites the importance of involving women in peacebuilding processes, recognies the often under-valued contributions women make to conflict prevention, peacekeeping, conflict resolution and peace building, and addresses the disproportionate and devastating impact armed conflict have on women and girls (Bonn et al., 2007). On the other hand, women’s engagement in peacebuilding has been found to contribute to lasting peace, encourages more inclusive governance and strengthens the legitimacy of the new institutions (Financing UN Security Council Resolution 1325).
Transitional Justice in the Contex of Uganda
Since the 1990s, the Northern Uganda region has been the site of on-going conflict between the Lord‘s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda. According to reports the conflict-affected area is characterized by widespread impunity for human rights violations, particularly against women and girls (ICTJ, 2014).
To address these human rights violations, on 21 May 2013, the Government of Uganda committed itself to be one of the first African countries to draft a Transitional Justice Policy. The Draft Transitional Justice Policy seeks to provide a prescription for strengthening stability in the country by combining aspects of judicial and non-judicial transitional justice mechanisms. The draft policy links to the signed Juba Agreement on accountability and reconciliation between the Government of the Republic of Uganda and the Lord’s Resistance Army Movement (cf. Agreement on accountability and reconciliation).
The role of Women in Transitional Justice in Uganda
Whereas the Uganda draft Transitional Justice Policy recognizes gender equality as one of its guiding principles, there is still limited involvement of women in the development of the transitional justice policy (Ictj briefing, 2014).
Examples of how women are contributing to a more effective transitional justice processes in Uganda
- Women play a key role as mediators and negotiators during peace processes. Betty Bigombe, for example, has been involved in peace negotiations and was the Chief Mediator between the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Government of Uganda.
- Women’s coalitions, such as the Uganda Women’s Coalition for Peace (UWCP) have lobbied for women‘s particpation in peace processes to ensure the women’s needs, concerns and priorities are taken into consideration in the peace agreement and subsequent budget processes (Nabukeera-Musoke, 2010).
- Women grassroots leaders have contributed to reviving cultural institutions to prepare the community for reconciliation and re-integration. For example, Rosalba Ato Oywa is a pioneer female leader of community-based conflict resolution in northern Uganda. (Bhagwan-Rolls, 2011).
- Reparation programmes that take into consideration the war’s economic toll on women have been designed by community and women-led organisations, such as the, Foundation for Integrated Rural Development (FIRD) Uganda, to address the needs and support the healing process of women and girls.
- The Women‘s Coalition mobilises resources for the participation of selected women representatives to lobby and observe the peace One of the advocacy tools they have developed is the women‘s peace caravan which promotes women’s participation in all aspects of the peace process.(Nabukeera-Musoke, 2010).
Bhagwan-Rolls, S. (2011), Pacific Regional Perspectives on Women and the Media: Making the Connection with UN Security Council Resolution 1325 (Women, Peace, and Security) and Section J of the Beijing Platform for Action, Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society, 36(3), 570–577, https://doi.org/10.1086/657491
Bonn, G., Cranston, G., Dago, J., Deghati, M., Furrer, M., Grabka, T., Ridley, T (2007). The shame of war sexual violence against women and girls in conflict
ICTJ briefing (2014), Confronting Impunity and Engendering Transitional Justice Processes in Northern Uganda, https://www.ictj.org/sites/default/files/ICTJ-Uganda-GenderBriefing-New-2014.pdf
Nabukeera-Musoke, H. (2010), Transitional justice and gender in Uganda: Making peace, failing women during the peace negotiation process, African Journal on Conflict Resolution, 9(2), 121–129, https://doi.org/10.4314/ajcr.v9i2.52176
Porter, E. (2013), Ethical Commitment to Women’s Participation in Transitional Justice, Global Justice : Theory Practice Rhetoric, 6(0), https://doi.org/10.21248/GJN.6.0.36
UN WOMEN. (2015), UN Women global-study: Preventing conflict, transforming justice, securing the peace, http://www2.unwomen.org/-/media/files/un women/wps/highlights/unw-global-study-1325-2015.pdf?vs=2435