The Search for Transitional Justice in Uganda: Global Dimensions
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMasters of Arts
This thesis analyzes the development of national justice processes in Uganda in the wake of war in order to address key theoretical dilemmas that have recently emerged in the field of transitional justice. I focus on closely connected debates over the exclusion of socioeconomic justice, the relationship between international, national and local actors, the role of transitional justice discourse, and ultimately, the future of the field itself. Based on fieldwork undertaken in Kampala, the Acholi district and the temporary international arena created in Kampala for the 2010 ICC Review Conference, this thesis traces the role of local, national and international actors in the war itself, the search for peace, and the current post-conflict period. I examine the ways in which actors at all levels narrate the northern conflict and accordingly negotiate and contest the nature, scope and course of post conflict justice. I argue that the struggle for a meaningful approach to transitional justice is global in dimension. The power to define and perform postwar justice is concentrated in the hands of the state. A high risk persists that Uganda's transitional justice policy will prove an empty performance of 'victor's justice.' International and domestic actors alike have shaped and justified the Ugandan Government's self-interested approach and facilitated the dominance of international criminal justice. Conversely, civil society actors at all levels in Uganda draw on transitional justice as a radical language of resistance to fight for meaningful change. As long as it fails to address socioeconomic issues and structural violence however, transitional justice discourse will ultimately fall short of giving political voice to local priorities, and activating long-term social transformation. I argue that the field of transitional justice must be re-envisioned to embrace socioeconomic justice, in order to impel the endless pursuit of a just society. This task will require the collective efforts of a global constellation of actors.