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UN Needs to Lead New Uganda Peace Strategy

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Julia Spiegel co-authored this posting.

The Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) is now creating havoc and abducting children in four countries in central Africa. Today, United Nations Special Envoy for LRA-affected areas Joaquim Chissano is briefing the U.N. Security Council on the need to continue a two year peace process which has not succeeded in ending the LRA's attacks against civilians. Although the negotiations have yielded small benefits in terms of enabling some northerners to return home, and in facilitating north-south dialogue, a new strategy is needed to end the ongoing threat to international peace and security posed by the LRA.

The international peace strategy for dealing with the LRA must shift from one that relies solely on negotiations to one that develops leverage for a solution through crafting a military strategy that would isolate the LRA leadership and cut off its external sources of support. We need to turn up the heat on Kony in order to affect his incentives for continuing his warlord ways.

Without real leverage and without a direct channel of negotiations to Kony himself, the LRA leader has exploited the last year of talks to stave off international pressure, collect food and money from the mediators and donors, and buy time to abduct and maraud in eastern Congo, the Central African Republic, and South Sudan.

Continuing with the current approach -- peaceful efforts to reach out to Kony without imposing new constraints or costs -- will lead to the same result: no final peace deal signed and civilians in a four country radius at risk of LRA attacks.

The international community must demonstrate to Kony once and for all that his days of impunity are over. International leverage must be forged through the development of a credible regional military strategy to apprehend Kony and the other two LRA commanders indicted by the International Criminal Court.

Military planning, which would help to contain Kony and protect civilians in the region, should be accompanied by efforts to reduce external support for the LRA from the Sudanese government and from small, radicalized elements of the Ugandan diaspora who want to undermine Ugandan President Museveni's rule. In addition, the Ugandan government, backed by international donors, should support stability where it exists by implementing its development plans for northern Uganda.

Backed by the dual leverage of a military planning process and continuing investigations by the ICC, efforts to construct a direct channel to Kony could then be renewed.

To learn more, read ENOUGH strategy paper A New Peace Strategy for Northern Uganda and the LRA.