Give Peace a Real Chance
– Resolve Uganda, October 2007
Though the progress has been slow, the Juba negotiations have led to dramaticimprovements in the conditions on the ground. The Cessation of HostilitiesAgreement brokered through the negotiations in August of 2006 brought relativecalm for the first time in years. Since that agreement was signed, there havebeen virtually no attacks or abductions in northern Uganda. The phenomenon of child “night commuting” has largely ended, and freedom of movement has beenexpanded, allowing many northern Ugandans to access their land.
Still, the vast majority of northerners have not moved back to their originalhomes. Over 1.3 million people remain displaced in camps or newly developedtransition sites,
where they lack access to basic health, water, and educationservices. Reports suggest that displaced people are eager to leave the squalor of camps, but many will wait for a final agreement from Juba before doing so.
Anyconflagration of violence could lead to an immediate deterioration of allimprovements made.A final peace agreement is unlikely to be reached until at least the spring of 2008. The Juba process is currently in the middle of discussions around the thirdof five agenda items, addressing issues of accountability and reconciliation.
Aspart of this agenda item, the LRA and Government of Uganda have beenmandated to hold “consultations” to allow the input of affected communities andlocal civil society into the process. The government has concluded eleven suchconsultations in the war-affected region and Kampala. The LRA’s consultativemeetings have been delayed because of funding issues, but are expected to takeplace in November.Official negotiations are then predicted to resume in late November or December.When the parties return to the negotiating table, they will first have to finalize theimplementation annex to their agreement on agenda item three.
This agreementwill detail the specific mechanisms to be established for dealing with past crimes.
For more background to the Juba peace talks, see Uganda Conflict Action Network (26 April 2007),“Seizing the Second Chance: Peace on the Horizon for Northern Uganda?” and Uganda Conflict Action Network (July 2006), “2006 Peace Talks in Juba: A Historic Opportunity.”
In September 2007 the Inter Agency Standing Committee in Uganda estimated that 29% of IDPs (526,300 people) had returned to their homes of origin, with 49% (901,000 people) remaining in mother camps and22% (409,000 people) in “decongestion” or “satellite” sites. Most full returns have been limited to theLango and Teso sub-regions, where displacement has not existed for as long as it has in the Acholi sub-region.
Refugee Law Project (June 2007), “Rapid Assessment of Population Movement in Gulu and Pader,”Kampala: Faculty of Law, Makerere University.
The five agenda items for the Juba peace process are as agreed upon by both parties are: (1) cessation of hostilities, (2) comprehensive solutions to the war, (3) accountability and reconciliation, (4) disarmament,demobilization and reintegration (DDR), and (5) final ceasefire.
International Crisis Group (14 September 2007), “Northern Uganda Peace Process: The Need to MaintainMomentum,” Kampala/Nairobi/Brussels: Africa Briefing No. 46.